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Published on: March 29, 2022, 8:15 p.m.
The joy of growing together
  • Education has been one of the focus areas of Balmer Lawrie’s CSR activities

By Adika Ratna Sekhar. The author is chairman & managing director, Balmer Lawrie & Co. Ltd

The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a monumental shift in the way businesses are operating today. There’s no doubt that most of us are walking a tightrope and will have to do so for some time. Uncertainty is here to stay, and is now compounded by the war in the Ukraine. In these unprecedented times, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability assumes great significance and meeting Sustainable Development Goals is absolutely non-negotiable.

Balmer Lawrie is a very diverse organisation, which has a strong presence in both the manufacturing and service sectors. This diversity has helped the company stay strong and profitable. Very interestingly, this element of diversity has permeated into the various facets of the organisation including CSR and Sustainability. 

Balmer Lawrie’s CSR initiatives are driven by two flagship programmes – Balmer Lawrie Initiative for Self-Sustenance (BLISS) and Samaj Mein Balmer Lawrie (SAMBAL). While the first programme is directed at providing and improving the long-term economic sustenance of the underprivileged, the second programme aims at improving the living standards and quality of life of the population in and around the company’s work-centres pan India. The focus areas for the schemes under the programmes, amongst others, have been on education, healthcare, sanitation, and integrated village development and the target groups include children, women, young people, the elderly and differently abled people.

The company is a founding member of the UN Global Compact in India and has also been publishing the BRR and sustainability report annually. Trust and transparency are keys to driving a culture of sustainable development and the company is committed in its journey to steer sustainable growth not only in its businesses processes, products and services but in the overall ecosystem comprising all its stakeholders and the community. A total sum of Rs514 lakh was spent during the year 2020-21, towards CSR.

 To fight Covid-19, the public sector has done exemplary work, especially companies under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG), GoI. OMCs and steel-makers have added 10,500 oxygenated Covid beds in the country. These two sectors together had supplied the major part of the national requirement of liquid medical oxygen on a daily basis. Each of the oil PSUs including Balmer Lawrie under the administrative control of MoPNG set up Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Oxygen Plants at various hospitals in different states as per the directive of the health ministry.

In the current financial year CSR activities of PSEs are more focused on oxygen plant installation, oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrator distribution, vaccination drives, distribution of mask and sanitisers to communities and distribution of food items to migrants and underprivileged families

  • Balmer Lawrie’s CSR initiatives are driven by two flagship programmes – Balmer Lawrie Initiative for Self-Sustenance (BLISS) and Samaj Mein Balmer Lawrie (SAMBAL)

There is immense scope for improvement in the various CSR activities undertaken by the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). There is a need for dynamic collaboration of efforts, and the interests of multiple stakeholders and beneficiaries need to be assessed. Additionally, the CSR initiatives of PSUs are aligned with the various initiatives of the Government and hence, companies have to be proactive in enhancing the transparency and credibility of the processes involved in the projects.

Strict SLAs related to the role of external agencies in assisting the corporates with the planning and implementation of CSR activities are needed. Auditing and assessment are key for the success and sustainability of projects. Member companies have to find out ways and means to assist each other in realising the success of the various common projects. Balmer Lawrie has adopted two villages in Silvassa, Dadra Nagar and Haveli and one village in Taloja near its manufacturing operations and runs a robust ‘capacity building project on health and hygiene’ in association with the local administration and the implementation partner.

 The collaborative power of PSUs, private companies and even MNCs is immense. Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon said: “Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.” Collaboration is a must to protect the earth and its people.

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