AM/NS India Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has helped rural communities around its operations to become self-sufficient in many ways. Dr. Vikas Chandra Yadvendu, CSR Head, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India shared his views on recent CSR developments. Excerpts of an interview:
What are AM/NS India’s areas of focus when it comes to CSR?
AM/NS India is committed to the communities it operates in and the society at large, hence our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is as strategic as our steel making. AM/NS India CSR steers a wide range of initiatives that fall under six focus areas i.e. Health, Education, Livelihood, Sports & Culture, Environment, and Community Asset Creation to achieve sustainable development. Our CSR interventions cover eight states and have impacted more than a million lives in nearly 200 villages. We seek convergence with key stakeholders, community-based organisations, and the local administration to implement these programs. The program design involves critical needs assessment, resource mapping, and participatory planning with the communities to ensure their involvement and ownership in the long-run. The interventions are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013.
Describe few key CSR initiatives undertaken by the company and how has it has impacted the communities across states?
AM/NS India operates preventive and curative healthcare services through medical centers, health camps, and mobile medical units; maternal and child healthcare programs combating malnutrition, supporting intensive pulse polio drives, and eye-care provision, impacting more than 2 lakh people per annum across the country.
The company also supports District Disability Rehabilitation Centre (DDRC), Sukma in Chhattisgarh to sensitise Persons with Disabilities (PwD). So far, 30 comprehensive disability rehabilitation camps were conducted where 2900 PwDs were identified and provided with disability certificates to avail Government schemes benefits. More than 400 PwDs were provided with assistive devices such as wheelchairs, blind sticks, tricycles, and hearing aid. Health awareness camps on AIDS, Malaria, TB; and village cleanliness drives are also held periodically.
To ensure quality education, 115 schools, and 47 Anganwadi centres have been provided additional community teachers, school libraries, water purifiers, and benches, along with various pictorial charts, textbooks, utensils, and additional classrooms across India. Through Tribal Residential Schools in Odisha at Telkoi and Tarlakota, free Primary and Middle school education and food are provided to 300 ‘Juang’ community tribal students, annually. So far AM/NS India has been successful to introduce 1000 tribal students to mainstream formal education.
Our 8 “AM/NS India – Lok Vikas Kendras (LVKs)” work towards imparting livelihood skills to women in rural India and empower them to be financially independent. Our tailoring program has been a huge success with more than 5000 women beneficiaries having been trained in stitching and other vocational courses. The Sanitary Napkin “SAHAJ” production unit established in Dantewada provides awareness among adolescent girls and women on menstrual hygiene as well as livelihood opportunities to local women and Self-Help Groups (SHG)
AM/NS India has successfully implemented the repair and installation of more than 200 hand pumps in various villages as well as installed 284 bore-wells and set up water connections in 26 schools across the country. Solar-based drinking water supply system has been set up in 17 inaccessible villages of Sukma with the support of Sukma District Administration and Chhattisgarh State Renewable Energy Development Agency-CREDA to reduce the hardships in fetching drinking water, benefiting around 10,400 villagers. In Gujarat, approximately 9.5 lakh liters of drinking water is supplied through a pipeline to the villages of Hazira, Matafaliya, and Gundardi villages, daily.
Tree plantation and awareness campaigns are conducted in and around villages across India for protecting the environment resulting in more than 2,15,000 plantations.
What have been the major challenges to implement CSR initiatives during the Covid-19 outbreak? What were the COVID relief initiatives?
In times of emergency, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the deployment of CSR funds becomes crucial to rapidly fill critical gaps as the overstretched state capacities may find it challenging to deliver. The company donated INR 50 crore to the PM-CARES Fund to support the govt in its mission to mitigate the health crisis.
AM/NS India also undertook various initiatives to support and protect local communities across our areas of operations mainly in the 5 states of Gujarat, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and partnered with the local district administration to help people in need of food and essentials in the state of a lockdown.
Key initiatives undertaken:
Regular disinfection drives were conducted in nearby villages/areas of our plant facilities across Odisha, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
Provided medical gears including 350,000+ face masks, sanitisers, soaps to the local communities as well as to healthcare providers and police forces
Provided Personal Protective suits, N95 masks, face shields, sanitizers, liquid hand wash, hand gloves to nearby Government and Private Hospitals.
Established 3 Covid Care Centers, 2 in Odisha and 1 in Hazira, Gujarat as per Government guidelines
Distributed 589,000+ meals to homeless migrant workers, daily wage workers, slum dwellers, and other needy locals across our plant and service center locations
What are the new measures you are taking to continue your activities while adhering to the COVID protocols?
With the easing of lockdown in phases, it is critical for all to be responsible and safe while going about day-to-day activities. Our team ensures to pass on precise information and health guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, among our communities with an intent of battling the virus in a relatively relaxed phase of lockdown. Additionally, all our Lok Vikas Kendras are running with flexible timings to ensure proper social distancing and wearing a mask and personal sanitizer has been made mandatory. We are also leveraging technology to monitor various CSR projects and work with the local district administrations to undertake activities. Social distancing is practised throughout the execution of any CSR-related work.
Can you share few success stories about community development / financial stability due to AMNS India’s CSR efforts
AM/NS India Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has helped rural communities in and around our operations to become self-sufficient in many ways. Our Lok Vikas Kendras have provided women with an alternative and additional source of income of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per month for their families. Vocational training programs (stitching, bakery, mehndi, terracotta, and soft toys making & others) have enabled these rural women and girls to learn and enhance their skills and confidence by making themselves dependable.
More than 100 women are involved in jaggery, papad, and phenyl production that aids them with an additional source of income. We have also trained farmers to cultivate organic mushrooms and vegetables which they sell in the local market for supplementary income for their families.
Do you think CSR activities / CSR delivery would see any change in the post Covid world?
The pandemic has put a tremendous strain globally on public systems, forcing a re-evaluation of public service delivery. Corporates and governments will need to devise new strategies that serve communities in the post-COVID world. More long-term efforts like continued access to education, accelerating digitization of services, and promoting entrepreneurship is just as important as providing meals and masks. Additionally, it would be interesting to harness the power of digital connectivity to engage with employees for volunteering virtually as teachers and mentors among many other roles. Such engagements can be sustained and built upon to become an integral part of a corporate entity’s CSR strategy in the coming months.
What are your suggestions and message – on building a strong CSR environment in the country?
The Company Act 2013 is considered to be one of the most significant legal reforms in India that have introduced several provisions regarding Corporate Social Responsibility. The subsequent amendments in the CSR rule providing direction and compliance reporting will further help corporates to put strategies in place for long-term planning in the areas where interventions are needed. However, it may take a few years to move beyond compliance and mature in a manner that the national development indicators are evidently enhanced and that rural development is principally driven through CSR and their collaboration in India.