National, December 27, 2013
Tata Power, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL) has always been committed towards the holistic development of the community living in and around its areas of operation. In line with this philosophy, Tata Power has adopted a multi-pronged approach that has benefited villagers from Tunda, Vandh, Modhva, Tragadi Bunder, Mota Kandagra, Nana Bhadiya, Nani Khakhar and Moti Khakhar villages in Mundra and Mandvi Taluka.
In line with its “Care for Community” philosophy, Tata Power has adopted a multi-dimensional community development program. Over and above health, education, energy conservation and natural resource management, the chief areas of focus are income generation, livelihood restoration and infrastructure development.
With the objective of safeguarding the livelihood of the villagers, the Company has undertaken successful initiatives including Project Akshay Urja Deep where the Company has installed green solutions i.e. tailor made solar lighting systems in the fishermen boats. Fishermen were suffering tremendously due to the lack of modernized equipment and proper infrastructure. Also, due to insufficient lighting at sea and fishing boats fishermen were compelled to avail loans at high interest rates to be able to afford the high costs of kerosene lanterns, better quality boats and other equipments. These struggles were eased by CGPL in partnership with Tata Power Solar System Limited and Tata Power Community Development Trust (TPCDT). These solar lights are stand-alone systems which require minimal maintenance. The programme has attained a milestone by way of the administrative recognition received by the Govt. of Gujarat and the same has been administratively endorsed by the office of the Commissioner of Fisheries Gujarat state.
More than 325 fishermen and 100 boat owners have benefited and it is expected that the programme will increase the productivity and income of the fishermen.The decrease in the debt of villagers with the provision of solar boat light has also resulted in a saving of Rs. 1000 to 2000 per month per villager which was earlier being spent on fuel. Over and above monetary benefits, this initiative has also mitigated health risks and resulted in environmental benefits due to replacement of kerosene lamps and generation of electricity without pollution. Through this activity the Company has also contributed to the objective of the National Solar Mission by setting up an enabling environment for solar technology penetration in the country.
In order to instill a sense of responsibility amongst villagers towards their environment and generate awareness on proper usage of natural resources, Tata Power installed Roof Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RRWHS) at Modhva village in association with Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) under Project Sagarbandhu. Literally meaning “Friends of the Sea,” the objective of RRWHS initiative was to generate awareness on proper usage of natural resources by providing an independent water supply. By providing water at their door step to the women of the village, these structures have mitigated the unavailability of water issues. RRWHS replenishes the ground water table thus enabling dug wells and bore wells to sustain adequate water, and has a twofold benefit as it ensures continual supply of water in times of droughts.
CGPL also initiated the establishment of a unique relationship with villagers from Modhva with the formation of a Village Development Advisory Committee (VDAC), where the communities have ownership and opportunities to participate in the planning and implementation of developmental projects/activities. VDAC members are chosen from the community itself and are thus better equipped to articulate the needs of the villagers to the Company. Very recently the VDAC has also initiated Micro-Finance activity which is also benefiting the needy fishermen of Modhva. Tata Power always facilitates the community interactions and organize regular meetings. A capacity building plan has been developed and various training program along with exposure visit has been organised. Special training on leadership was organized for the VDAC members in Sayla training center established by AKRSP and it is always a part of capacity building and strengthening of VDAC. The VDAC plays a strong role of linking CGPL’s development work in the village and this enterprising initiative has helped the Company establish a strong rapport with the villagers and understand local issues. The VDAC assists the Company in undertaking further initiatives such as exposure visits, SHG formation, drinking water and sanitation facilities, and school level interventions, distribution of boat lights, fishing nets, and marketing equipment.
CGPL in association with VDAC is also implementing Project ‘Swach Jal’ and constructed 4 wells to supply safe and clean drinking water to the villagers. The Company invited and engaged a Geo Hydrologist for the identification of sweet water availability at Modhva whereas the VDAC monitored the entire process. The village women would earlier walk 1 to 1.5 kms for collection of drinking water and this arrangement has put an end to the tiresome process by mitigating the water scarcity in the village.
The VDAC has also been instrumental in the formation of Self-Help Groups (SHG) for women in Modhva in association with AKSRP under Sagarbandhu, which has provided them a platform to share their concerns. CGPL in association with AKSRP has provided initial assistance in arranging meetings, framing the bye laws for the group, collecting monthly savings by each of the women member, providing printed books of records, opening of the bank a/c, exposure visit etc. and trained the women in all these aspects. The SHG’s organize monthly meetings and has extended credit support through systematic inter loaning among the SHG members in order to encourage women to initiate their own ventures and also fulfill their emergent needs. Till date, a total of 5 women SHG comprised of 72 fisher women have been formed at Modhva and bank A/Cs of 2 of them have been opened. The promotion of micro credit programs is a key strategy for the alleviation of poverty and thrust on women empowerment.
Speaking on these initiatives, Mr. Anil Sardana, Managing Director- Tata Power stated, “It is Tata Power’s endeavour to improve the quality of life of its communities and we are proud to drive such initiatives for the well-being of the community. We aim towards social mobilization of the fishermen community through sustained educational initiatives. The success of the initiatives undertaken motivates us to contribute further to this cause. We would also like to thank Government of Gujarat and all our partners in their unrelenting support and guidance to achieve our goal of community development.”
Over and above these initiatives, the Company also provided Livelihood support to 467 fishermen of Modhva fishing hamlet to enhance their fish catch through better fishing nets and fishing equipments. Fisher folks need to change their nets twice in a season which turns out to be an expensive affair. Under this program, the Company provided technical inputs for better fishing practices which have resulted in a high quality of fish catch, thereby increasing the fishermen’s income. Additionally, AKSRP in association with CGPL and VDAC has been working towards the development of fishing infrastructure for fishing as an occupation and diversification of livelihood options. Before initiating the activities, a systematic value chain analysis study was carried out by Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) at Modhva under the project, the objective of this study was to analyze the fisheries value chain for fisheries in Kutch at macro level to integrate and develop the value chain for fisher folks of Modhava village of Mandvi Taluka to improve the livelihood of the community. CGPL has also partnered with Fisheries Management Resource Centre (FishMARC), an NGO which comprises of recognized sectoral experts with decades of experience in cooperative institution building among marine fishing communities. This association aims to ensure sustainability of traditional livelihood of the fisher folk. The core component of the project is cooperative institution building among the traditional artisanal marine fishing communities. The action is about releasing the fishing families from the grip of debt and helping them build democratically managed institutions engaging in marketing of fish and related activities, which helps the fishing communities improve their earnings and enhance their quality of life.