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Connecting with Community – A Corporate Strategy

by Clean India Journal - Editor
0 comment

Cairn India Limited’s Initiatives

Cairn India gained support from the villagers and the local leaders in catering to the local requests which asked for support in construction of household toilets. Since 2013, Cairn India supported construction of one toilet and one bathroom at an individual household level for three Gram Panchayats – Beriwala Tala, Bhadka and Mundo Ki Dhani – in 31 villages.

A survey conducted in the region, it came to fore that women required bathrooms as much as toilets. Cairn India realized the absence of individual household bathrooms besides toilets in the rural areas of Barmer in Rajasthan as a critical problem.

[box type=”shadow” ]“It is important to empower the community and give it the due respect. All that an individual requires is ‘selfrespect’. We believe in being an enabler and a facilitator and not a provider of that self-respect. ”[/box]Cairn India’s contributed `8,000 per household while the remaining `10,000 was sourced from government schemes and institutions. Around 2,500 toilets with attached bathrooms have been built out of 4,500 households in these three panchayats.

 The current survey shows high satisfaction rates for the programme to the tune of 80% in third party evaluation exercises.

Cairn India project included construction of school toilets in keeping with the Rajasthan government mandate on toilet design’s key features. However, there is an addition of replacing the soak/leach pit by installation of a bio-digester which contains a bacterial consortium in a unit that degrades night soil at a range of temperatures and produces colourless, odourless and inflammable bio gas.

This leads to less water consumption and less manual waste handling. The smell of night soil, the disease causing organisms in the night soil and the solid matter are eliminated totally. On dry weight basis 90% of the solid waste is reduced.

Since the bio-digester technology does not require water for flushing, less water is consumed further saving environment. The E-Coli bacteria which thrives on human excreta leads to total decomposition of human waste and ensures the surrounding environment’s cleanliness and removes the chances of ground water contamination. The bio-digester toilets are nearly maintenance free.

The local panchayat was engaged in the development programs for the construction of the household toiles and bathrooms and for community mobilization. The program through its design, created meaningful employment under the ‘Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005’ (MNREGA) and led to improved sanitation facilities, with creating ownership among locals.

Under Cairn India’s “Jeevan Amrit Project”, kiosks with reverse osmosis (RO) plants have been installed to provide safe drinking water in villages like Bhakharpur, Kawas, Guda, Jogasar, Aakdada and Baytu to benefit 22,000 people. To get drinking water is difficult and it is very saline too.

Cairn India has also under the SBA taken up construction of 20,000 household toilets in the Baitu block of Barmer and 150 school toilets to support the Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya campaign. With this 10gram panchayats will qualify for the status of “O
pen defecation free panchayats” besides direct and indirect employment will be generated.

Any particular challenge faced in implementation?

In the Lanjigarh business unit of Vedanta open defecation was a bigger concern besides health issues of diarrhoea, malaria, sickle cell anaemia, nutritional anaemia, malnutrition, high birth order, and high maternal and infant mortality. In 2013, we noticed that the sense of sanitation is lacking in peripheral villages of the operations. Only 12% of the families had household toilet and yet open defecation was prevalent due to lack of education. In 2014, we signed an MOU with District Water & Sanitation Mission (DWSM), Kalahandi, under Rural Development Department, Government of Odisha.

We motivated communities and Panchayat Raj Institutions to promote sustainable sanitation facilities through awareness creation and health education.

The programme involves 40 villages of four gram panchayats – Lanjigarh, Chhatrapur, Baterlima and Champadiepur – covering around 4,000 households. The cost of per unit came to about Rs.12,000 and it was modelled in such a way that the cost of toilets for villagers who had no toilet and had no financial obligations with DWSM would be borne by DWSM and the cost of repairing damaged and defunt toilets built with DWSM would be borne by Vedanta Lanjigarh unit.

Thus, the strategy of implementation of the project is in bringing about behavior change, educating and encouraging the villagers in toilet construction and its use.

After completion of construction in 40 villages, the project can be extended to other villages of Lanjigarh Block.

In south too Vedanta recently started work on a sustainable sanitation programme?

Another similar project Sterlite Copper has initiated in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. These household toilets are basically for families who are below poverty line and we address the need of the community. We have done about 200 toilets in two villages Milavittan and Therrkuveerapandiapuram along with Sulabh International. We also went another step beyond sanitation by engaging in educating the people on health issues and diseases, bad sanitation surrounding and water logging.

Recently, Vedanta has connected with the Anganwadi project of the HRD Ministry

One of the most significant projects that we have undertaken with the HRD Ministry is refurbishing / re-creating or building 4,000 anganwadis. Some of the locations identified have not even seen an anganwadi. We are getting into such interlines where we are also providing two toilets wherever possible, solar energy, waste management and safe drinking water. We have created a pre-fabricated structure model in Sonipat near Delhi. This model will be replicated to rebuild structures that are damaged.

Does CSR end with the construction of toilets? Is maintaining it also a part of CSR?

Maintaining what is built is a part of CSR but who takes on that accountability is important. It has to reside either at the local government level or at the individual level. Corporates can provide the facility up to a point but to maintain the facility, it is always the community’s responsibility compared to us. We are creating the social infrastructure and handing it over. There is no way a corporate can take on that responsibility. We also feel there is a social obligation and to that extent we indirectly take stock by monitoring the maintenance of structure through a constant dialogue with the local body. The responsible NGOs too have to report back. All said, it is a property constructed by Vedanta and we would monitor it ensure the property is being maintained.

In every project, we hand-hold the community to an extent and then make them self-reliant. We put in place a mechanism to make it selfsustained. We want an empowered society which is possible only when they are made self-reliant and make them proud of their own well-being and give them that status. If this is not done, then your CSR is not heading in the right direction.

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