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  Coronavirus Response

Published on: May 1, 2020, 12:09 p.m.
Jindal Steel launches social projects in tribal belts to contain the virus
  • Face masks being prepared by women members of a self help group

By Ritwik Sinha. Consulting Editor, Business India

For Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL), part of the diversified $25-billion business conglomerate Jindal Group, the action unfolds in deep, tribal belts of Chattisgarh, Odisha, and Jharkhand, where the company's plants and mines are located.

The over $5.5-billion revenue steel and power major operates in pockets like Patratu, Barbil, Angul, Tensa, and Raigarh, which have a sizeable tribal population in their surroundings. Here the company implements social programmes that are linked with healthcare and assists local Self Help Groups in improving social conditions around themselves.

“A tribal population of about a million people resides in the catchment area of operational centers. We run Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes to improve their living standards,” informs Dr. Prashant Hota, President and Group Head (CSR & Sustainability), JSPL, and secretary-general of JSPL Foundation, the CSR arm of the company.

The CSR structure of the metal and mining major includes serving the local communities by responding to needs, building and strengthening community institutions and Panchayati Raj Institutes (PRIs), and providing assistance during times of disasters.

The pockets within which JSPL operates have not emerged as high-intensity zones on the national, coronavirus map. "Nevertheless, we are helping the administration to beef up healthcare infrastructure. Raising awareness about the nature of the disease has been a key focus. Not many in the surrounding tribal villages know about the disease,” Hota explains.

Using its existing CSR programmes as a base, the company has focused on getting healthcare centers ready to deal with any eventuality. JSPL Foundation operates two hospitals at Raigarh and Tamnar, which are managed by Fortis, and 115 beds have been earmarked for Covid-19 patients including 15 ICU beds.

The foundation has arranged ventilators and PPEs for hospital doctors and staffers. It has provided support through OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) centres and has created quarantine facilities at manufacturing locations.

The foundation also runs women empowerment projects which involve the participation of local Self Help Groups. While preparing to deal with a larger crisis situation, these entities collectively contribute to helping with the situation.

Equipped with skill and machines, the Self Help Groups have made more than 150,000 masks and distributed them amongst the local community and company’s workforce, as well as the vendors and truckers who visit the plants and the mines.

The foundation also provides a cooked meal or raw food grains to the people that live around its facilities.

“We are making use of community radio, and have got special jingles made in local languages (including ho and santhali, the tribal dialects) particularly stressing on the need to adopt measures like social distancing. We are also closely working with the local administration and panchayats in the distribution of food and health kits,” adds Hota.

On 19 April, the Chief Minister of Chattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel thanked the company via his official tweet saying, ”Your 1,000 PPE kits have been well received on our end and have been further distributed as per their requirements.”

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