IndiaCSR News Network
The number 50 appears to be just like a number in counting, but if we see its importance in relation to an organisation and to the people attached to it, then it is seen as a huge treasure. This count of 50 years is like a bag full of memories of yester years. The maiden footsteps of little tender feet, the wobbling, the getting up after falling down, then walking with care and then running describe this special journey. In this treasure bag are hidden in one corner, vibrant memories of those people who in the journey of half a century, themselves chose to be remembered as milestones. Their relentless toil, selfless determination and innumerable sacrifices have prepared a solid path laid with experiences which will not only help the present generation to forge ahead towards the peak of excellence but also prepare a runway which will lay another saga of excellence of 50 years ahead. It is rightly said excellence and success are not a destination, they are journeys.
November 2014 is very special to Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (Balco) as it is its Golden Jubilee Year. India’s erstwhile visionaries dreamt of making the Nation self-sufficient in science and technology and this gave way to the establishment of many trades and industries with collaboration from many countries. To make the Nation self- dependent, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India sowed the seeds of many maiden industries, among which Balco was one.The vison with which Pandit Nehru established industries like Balco has been thoroughly justified over the passage of time. The Country has also felt that the path chosen by Pandit Nehru was one which would take the citizens towards a golden future.
The Essence of Balco
Whether we talk of today or fifty years back, the different machines set up to make aluminium out of bauxite and the smoke willowing chimneys have all undergone a continuous change. Technologies change with time, but their importance lies in how they have made the lives of people, attached with them, more comfortable than what it used to be. Somebody got an opportunity to work, the doors of a school opened for somebody and for somebody medical care became easy in a hospital.
The village, Parsabhata, where Balco is located, was there before Balco came into existence in the year 1965. It was a quiet dwelling of a small population, living in mud houses with thatched roofs. The village often got cut off from the rest of Korba during the upsurge of rivulets and rivers during monsoons. With time the topography of the area has changed. Today if anybody searches for Parsabhata on the net, he will come to know that the erstwhile sleepy village patched with thatched roofs has now established itself on the global map as an area with a major aluminium producing unit producing 5,75,000 tonnes of aluminium per year. This Unit is today providing the means of livelihood to nearly 1,25,000 people who are directly or indirectly associated with it.
If we see the progress of Balco only by the inroad of ‘state of the art’ technologies, the constant installation of new machineries and the increasing length of chimneys piercing into the blue sky, we will only get a very narrow and constricted picture of the development that has happened here. The true and broad spectrum of Balco’s progress is seen in the numerous smiles it has brought on the faces of the people attached to it. Businessmen, entrepreneurs, small time vendors, doctors, engineers, teachers, social workers, farmers and labourers have all personally grown with Balco. They have earned meaningful livelihoods and have also helped make every moment in Balco’s journey of 50 years more beautiful than the previous one.
Time has seen phenomenal changes. The people who grew with Balco have witnessed the changes. The narrow dusty lanes transformed to broad metallic roads, the thatched roof houses gave way to permanent houses, the dark lanes brightened with looming electric poles and the enlightenment of minds started to happen as education creeped into every house. No family attached to Balco may have ever had the wildest dream about the withering of Balco. The Prayers offered in the Mandir, Masjid, Church and Gurudwara all located in one place in the Township, bear testimony to the fact that every soul irrespective of his or her religious faith only prayed to the Almighty for Balco’s perpetual growth and glory. The Glorious Journey of Balco over 50 years can be seen as God’s answer to the prayers of one and all who have been strongly committed and sincerely attached to the unit.
Multifold expansion and Multi Dimensional progress
The investment by Vedanta Group in Balco can be seen as a step towards giving a multifold expansion which would truly justify its true potential. After the year 2000 work was started to enhance the 1,00,000 tonnes per annum, smelter capacity by three and a half times and to increase the 270 M.W power production to 810 M.W. In record time, a new smelter with an annual capacity of 2.50 lakh tonnes and a 540 M.W. power unit came into existence. At present, a new smelter with an annual capacity of 3.25 lakh tonnes and a power unit of 1200 M.W are in an advanced stage of starting operations. This entire enhancement in capacity since the year 2001 has helped numerous people earn their livelihood, labouring day and night, from the start to the finishing stages of production. The earnings of businessmen from Balco as well as Korba went up manifold.
In the last decade, Balco has contributed a revenue to the State’s exchequer to the tune of more than Rs. 4500 crores. During this time, there was a development of services and transport business to the tune of nearly Rest 2800 crores. Ram Singh Agarwal, renowned businessman and President of Korba Chamber of Commerce proudly shared “I heartily congratulate Balco Family and also give my good wishes to it for completing this journey of 50 years. I got an opportunity to work in several big projects of Balco. I have a special attachment with Balco. Nearly 5000 businessmen are attached to Balco. Today, as a reason of lower capacity utilisation in Balco, the percentage of business opportunity which was being earlier enjoyed has gone down to a meagre 10%. The 1200 M.W project of Balco most go on stream at the earliest”. Agarwal also expressed his desire that Balco would continue to progress relentlessly and serve the people of Korba as it moved ahead.
It is matter of pride for Balco family that nearly 98% of the profit earned in Balco has been reinvested back in the State. Nearly 8200 crores have been invested in the expansion programme. It is estimated that by the starting of the expansion projects, the revenue contribution to the State’s exchequer would annually go up by Rs. 250 crores and at the same time the revenue contribution to the Centre would also go up. Simultaneously, the opportunities in business would become twofold and the contribution of revenue to the State would also go up by two times. The direct and indirect employment opportunities would go up in the range of 10,000 to 35,000. The expansion project will also give impetus to downstream aluminium projects. The benefit of the mushrooming of small and medium industries as a result of Balco’s capacity expansion would go to, at large, to the people of Chhattisgarh.
Dr. Bansilal Mahto, Member of Parliament, Korba has congratulated Balco on its Golden Jubilee. On many an occasion, Dr. Mahto has expressed his happiness over Balco’s glorious journey.- I have known Balco from its inception. After disinvestment, there has been an increase in Balco’s infrastructure. There is no doubt in this. In comparision to the past, Balco’s area has become more pollution free. It is our strong contention and feeling that Balco continues to be an industry that continually assists in the progress of the Country.The people working in Balco who are indirectly contributing towards the progress of the Nation should also become more prosperous. The business in Korba should grow. The 1200 M.W. power unit of Balco should be started. Let us mutually discuss about this and will help the early start-up of the Expansion Project in every possible way.”
In the journey of half a century, Balco has produced aluminium for all general requirements of the Country. In addition to this it has also registered itself in projects of scientific and strategic importance. Balco has earned immense pride by finding the use of its aluminium in the manufacture of a number long range missiles and also in equipment being used for galaxy explorations. Sumer Dalmia, President of Balconagar Chamber of Commerce has congratulated Balco on its Golden Jubilee in these words “ In Balco there are 365 Business families. The prosperous future of all the residents of Balconagar is attached to Balco.” Dalmia is hopeful that Balco will keep achieving new heights.
The scope of Social activities has grown making villages prosperous
In its 50th year of existence, Balco can proudly say that its progress and the prosperity of people living in the vicinity of its operational areas are true reflections of each other. Community development works are more focused under the pioneer of Anil Agrawal, Chairman, Vedanta Group. He says “Community service is placed higher than business at Vedanta Group. I treat all achievements on one level. I also aspire to give my best to whatever I do just like everybody is doing in their respective fields. When we want to give something back to the community, so we should always think what best we can do. Even our sacred ancient books of wisdom say that we should serve society without keeping any expectations in return.”
Under the scope of Community Development the beneficiary villages have grown from 4 to 121. In the areas of education,health, self-sustenance, development of basic infrastructure etc, a whopping sum of Rs 250 crores has been already invested. Nearly one and half lakh people have so far been benefitted from social development projects. Ashok Tiwari, a renowned lawyer from Korba shares his feelings in these words “ For the people of Korba, Balco is a matter of immense pride for them. Whether it is in the field of CSR or sports, Balco is doing very good work. Balco is symbol of great pride for Chhattisgarh as well as for the Nation. Chhattisgarh has a valuable contribution in the making of the Nation. In this context Balco has been an important medium. People are getting means of livelihood. They are prospering. The needy are getting opportunities to enhance and renew their skills. The residents want that Balco reaches even more greater heights. Balco should keep on adding to the importance of Korba on the global map.
Sarve Santu Neeramaya
In the past five decades, Balco Hospital has undergone significant changes. All the departments are now connected by computers. Modern machines have now been installed for operations and for inspection. From time to time, with the help of specialists, different camps are organised. These include laproscopy camp, orthoscopy camp, cancer detection camp, spine camp, physiotheraphy camp etc. Balco Hospital is the first medical centre of its kind to perform knee transplantation in Korba District. Sumitra Bai, mother of Santosh Nath Shivopasak, a Balco employee is now back to normal life after a successful knee transplantation carried out at Balco Hospital. Her family members don’t get tired of praising Balco. Shivopasak family believes that the facilities available in Balco Hospital for medical care are excellent. The behaviour of doctors and nurses towards patients is very pleasing and caring. Amit Bhojasia, a Chartered Accountant from Korba has said “ I know Balco since 10 years. In these years I have seen that Balco has helped people in different ways. This is one company in the region which involves the residents in development works.”
Children educated from Balco are serving in renowned organisations all over the world
The renewal and improvement in education standards has always been an area of priority for Balco. In the last two years, Delhi Public School, a renowned school in the private sector has started functioning in Balco Township. Till the year 2012, the School had an affiliation from Kendriya Vidyalaya. Apart from this there are 15 more schools in Balconagar whose management is supported by Balco Management. The children of Balco officers, employees, contract workers, children from families residing in the vicinity of Balco are getting quality education in the schools affiliated to Central and State Higher Secondary Boards. The Schools have an important role to play in bringing about a positive change in the society. Nearly 5000 students are being benefitted from schools being supported by Balco. Children passing out from schools in Balconagar are today not only giving their services in renowned organisations in India but all over the world.
Progress and Culture have progressed together
The preservation of the environment and its improvement is a matter of deep concern for residents where industrialisation happens. On many an occasion, industrialisation has been opposed on the grounds of environment. In the last several years, Balco has emerged as a company which not only believes in technical progress and progress of people attached to the said technical progess but also firmly believes in tree plantation and in the installing of new techniques which are helping in a big way in environment conservation. In the period from 1972 to September 2014, Balco has planted 33,73,473 trees in its operational areas.
Under the ambitious project ‘ Project Greener Balco’, lot of NGOs, religious, social, educational organisations and citizens have been made associates for tree plantation and care of plants. Rain water harvesting system has been introduced in the Plant as well as in the Township. Lot of modern equipments have been installed in different units in Balco. These include – High Concentration Slurry Disposal System (H.C.H.D.), Hybrid Bag Filter, Water Recirculation System, E.S.P, Sewage Treatment Plant, Continuous Ambient Air Monitoring Station, etc. These installations are helping maintain the balance in the environment in the Plant as well as in the Township. Balco’s Township is the first of its kind from which emission of polluted water into drains and rivers is nil. In the bauxite mining areas, full attention is paid to conservation of flora and fauna.
This is a ‘Mini India’
People from all areas of India have served Balco and have thus contributed to the Nation’s progress by their skills and talents. Whenever people came to Balco they brought with them their ethnic culture, language and dialect of their regions. Balco is a great example of religious harmony, equality, brotherhood, perseverance and togetherness. The employees who have been thoroughly devoted to their work, have never believed in keeping narrow mentality which may have developed partiality or dissonance of any type in society. In this region, represented by many languages, cultures and religious beliefs, festivals from the North, South, East and West are celebrated with lot of fervour, pomp and gaiety. All residents assemble in the religious festivals of one another. They also mutually share their happiness and sorrow. They are prosperous too, and this they are continually sharing with the residents of pan India.
In conclusion, we can say that the five decades of Balco is an outcome of the charismatic thoughts of those people whose every moment and every step is for nation building. Now the reins are in the hands of a generation which stands enriched by the experiences of its yester generations and this rich experience of 50 years is a precious treasure with them. Today’s generation does not fear from hindrances. They have in their bloods, the D.N.A of indomitable courage and die hard determination which guides them through tough challenges. They know that they have to use the rich treasure of experience in the best possible way and then hand it over to the coming generation so that they can make Balco even more glorious in the coming years.