By Naginder Singh Kishor
Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) is the largest steel maker of India and amongst the top public sector enterprises in terms of turnover with the prestigious status of ‘Maharatna’. With this comes the responsibility of being a catalyst for positive change. Apart from the business of manufacturing steel, the objective of the company is to conduct business in ways that produce social, environmental and economic benefits to the communities in which it operates. SAIL’s socio-economic objectives are echoed in its Credo that includes a commitment to uphold the highest ethical standards in conduct of business, and of valuing the opportunity and responsibility “to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives”. One of SAIL’s Core Values – Concern for People – also reflects the company’s commitment towards society at large, which it endeavours to fulfill through wide-ranging and diversified initiatives and activities under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
For SAIL, CSR was an integral part of its operations ever since the establishment of its production units in remote locations of the country since the early 1950s. Places like Bhilai, Rourkela, Durgapur, etc., which today are thriving industrial and commercial centres having grown around SAIL’s integrated steel plants set up there, were once extremely backward locations without any economic or social infrastructure. The company had to provide basic amenities like power, drinking water, and education and medical facilities for its workforce at these plant locations; these facilities have multiplied over the decades as SAIL’s business has grown.
At today’s count, SAIL has established 54 Primary Health Centres, 12 Reproductive & Child Health Centres, 17 Hospitals and 7 Super-Specialty Hospitals for providing specialized healthcare to more then 30 million people since inception. Five special health centre (Kalyan Chikitsalyas) have been set up at plant locations for poor and needy people, where free medical treatment and medicines are provided. SAIL organizes health camps in the range of more than 3,000 every year, reaching out to people needing primary health support. The coverage has spanned various states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, etc. To help the poor and downtrodden patients and to have health outreach, 24 MMUs /ambulances have been provided to various NGOs like HelpAge India, Bharat Sewashram Sangha, Anugraha Drishtidaan, etc. A special project ‘Akshaya’ for providing free investigation to TB patients of under privileged sections of society and project ‘Chetna’ for treatment of sickle cell anaemia are run in Rourkela.
146 schools have been set up in the steel townships for providing modern education to about 70,000 children and assistance has been provided to over 286 schools of villages surrounding steel plants/units for free education of more than 55,000 students. 225 tribal children at Bhilai and 12 boys of the nearly extinct Birhore tribe at Bokaro have been adopted and are provided free education, boarding and lodging. SAIL has achieved a girl-boy ratio of 1:1 for all levels of education as well as a survival rate of 96% in SAIL primary schools and 90% in SAIL secondary schools. SAIL has also set up 6 Special Schools exclusively for poor, underprivileged, BPL children at its 5 integrated steel plant locations covering around 1,400 children providing free education, midday meals, uniform, including shoes, textbooks, stationery items, school bag, water bottles, etc. With the help of Akshay Patra Foundation, SAIL is providing midday meals to more than 18,000 students in different schools of Bhilai every day. In order to support the existing school infrastructure, SAIL has been providing additional classrooms across the country and such projects are in progress at Bhilai, Durgapur, Bokaro, Rourkela, Burnpur, as well as areas where SAIL carries out mining activities.
Besides the above, SAIL has supported Chhattisgarh Technical University with Rs 50 crore, for promotion of technical education and industry-education collaboration. Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) have also been set up at Gua Mines and Bokaro and two new ITIs are being set up in Uttar Pradesh. Scholarships for ITI and nursing courses to people belonging to weaker sections and women, sponsorships to students for technical education, free coaching and assistance to needy and poor children for their higher education, etc., are other areas of focus for SAIL in the field of education.
Roads are a means of communication and help economic and social activities to multiply. Involved in the construction and repair of roads in far-flung locations since inception, SAIL has constructed roads in 435 villages helping around 73 lakh people.
SAIL has also provided access to water infrastructure to people living in far-flung areas by installing 5,153 water sources, thereby providing drinking water access to around 38 lakh people. Each SAIL plant has ensured that villages within the radius of approximately 16-18 kms of its township have access to potable water.
Model Steel Villages
In order to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas and to provide comprehensive development of both physical and social infrastructure, 79 villages have been identified as ‘Model Steel Villages’ in 8 states across the country. The developmental activities being undertaken in these villages include medical & health services, education, roads & connectivity, sanitation, community centres, livelihood generation, sports facilities, etc.
Promotion of alternative source of energy is one of the thrust areas of SAIL. This year, SAIL under this initiative is supporting setting up of 100-kw Community Solar Power Plants in Jarri, Albert Ekka Block, Jharkhand with the help of Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency. SAIL is also installing solar street lights at public places to eradicate the problem of power crisis in rural and mines areas of the country.
SAIL has been always a trend setter in supporting people during natural calamities and recently it has supported construction of low cost houses at Leh after a cloud burst, providing galvanized sheets to Sikkim earth quake victims, contributing to Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for aid to people affected by the Odisha floods, and provided flood relief packets during the floods in Uttar Pradesh.
Villagers are being provided vocational training in areas such as improved agriculture, mushroom cultivation, animal husbandry (goatery, poultry, fishery, piggery), achar/ppapad/agarbatti making, etc. Training is also provided for skill enhancement as welders, fitters and electricians, in sewing & embroidery, smokeless chullah making, etc. Vocational training centres like Bhilai Ispat Kaushal Kutir for rural and unemployed youth and Skill Development & Self Employment Training Institutes for the benefit of women and girls have also been set up. One of the outstanding success stories of SAIL-supported Self Help Group programmes is ‘Kiran’ which is run by 97 lady artisans of nearby villages of Kiriburu Ore Mines. Kiran branded towels, bedsheets, sarees, Diwali candles and agarbattis are beinhg sold through door-to-door marketing efforts and through cooperatives.
SAIL has also become a part and parcel of the sporting history of the Nation. Right from the early trickles to the recent deluge of medals, awards and accolades, the steel major has supported many sports disciplines and promoted numerous sportspersons. SAIL supported wrestlers Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt and Deepak Sharma, all of whom won top honours and made the nation proud during international events such as the Beijing Olympics and Commonwealth Games 2010. SAIL was the presenting sponsor of World Cup Hockey 2010 and is also sponsoring the Asian Tour-level SAIL Open Golf Championship for the past 4 years, besides prestigious annual events such as Davis Cup, SAIL Trophy Cricket Tournament, DSA league, Nehru Cup, etc. The company has also set up 6 academies at its plant & mines locations – for Athletics (boys & girls), Hockey, Football and Archery.
Preservation of Art & Culture
Promotion and preservation of various forms of Indian arts and cultures enriches our cultural diversity. To fulfill this aspiration, SAIL has supported maintenance of monuments in Delhi’s Lodhi Gardens, and Vedvyas, Saraswati kund in Rourkela. To take care of distinct features of tribal culture, a 5-day Chhattisgarh Lok Kala Mahotsav is celebrated every year in Bhilai and nearby places in which more than 600 artistes participate. To promote local culture and games, various Gramin Lokotsavs and Gramin athletics competitions are organised by SAIL at different locations throughout the year.
Awards & Accolades
SAIL’s efforts as a responsible corporate citizen in Nation building have been recognized by various organizations in the form of awards and accolades. These include the SKOCH Financial Inclusion Award-2012 for Women Empowerment , India Shining Star CSR Award-2010 by Wockhardt Foundation in the Iron & Steel category, SCOPE Meritorious Award for Corporate Social Responsibility & Responsiveness for the year 2008-09, Annual FICCI Awards 2008-09 in the category of ‘The Vision Corporate Triple Impact – Business Performance, Social & Environmental Action and Globalisation’, Business World -FICCI-SEDF CSR Award for the year 2006, FICCI Award for Rural & Community Development 2006-07, CSR Award of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, Golden Peacock Award – 2008, 2009 & 2008-09 for CSR to Bhilai Steel Plant , CSR Award of Tamil Nadu Government to Salem Steel Plant for the consecutive years 2007-08 and 2008-09, etc.
(Author is Media & Communication Officer at Press Information Bureau)