The Now-Independent and Super Ladies of Kutch

Women Empowerment – a term that has of late become very popular among professionals in all circuits. This has been seen as a very positive development and has triggered myriad discussions on the public arena. The industry has been the quickest to realise that a token gesture or a standalone welfare programme cannot make a woman win her ‘gift’ of power. The industry is also well aware that making clean drinking water available locally; keeping the village healthcare centre well stocked (with medicines as well as doctors) and keeping the latrines in the school clean hence safe for girls to use are activities that lead to empowering a woman. Fortunately, Coastal Gujarat Private Limited (CGPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power understands this difference.

The Kutch district in Gujarat hosts the site for CGPL’s ambitious project of 4000 MW Ultra Mega Power Plant. In line with the Company’s commitment to the community in and around its area of operations, CGPL has spearheaded various programmes aiming at transforming the womanfolk from being helpless victims of a heavily prejudiced socio-economic system to becoming capable and confident of running the system themselves. A trip to the 6 catchment villages that lay within CGPL’s project site — Tunda-Vandh, Mota Kandagra of Mundra; Nanabhadia, Tragadi and Modva of Mandvi Taluka – establishes the development of the community women.

Maniben, a 22 year old mother from Vandh village enrolled herself, early this year, into the Mother Involvement Programme, CGPL’s most popular education initiative under “ Shiksha Sarathi Project” . This programme aims at training the mothers to help their children to study. The trainings are conducted by experts from Pratham Education Foundation, the largest Indian NGO working to provide quality education to the underprivileged children. “This has been the most thrilling experience of my life. The volunteers help us at every step to understand what my child needs, and how I can help. I feel as if I know my child better and I am ready to take decisions on his behalf, more confidently, says Maniben.

Krishnaben, a 30 year old teacher from Mota Kandagara says, “I have been a teacher for 11 years in government schools, but I have never felt so confident, so enthused, as I do now,” she declares, “CGPL has helped me add tremendous professional value to my portfolio. Attending teacher’s training workshop was an eye opener; I discussed problems commonly faced by all educators and jointly tried to find solutions to them. The training also boosted my skills in management, research and administrative systems. Now I am ready to tackle any challenge that comes my way!”

One of the most interesting examples of how women have made themselves strong enough to conquer the ‘system’ is that demonstrated by the school teachers in Modhva. Their story is about water, the most precious commodity in the desert land of Kutch. In some of the villages, the wells or the pipelines that bring in government-supplied water to these households, are located miles away. And the women spend many hours walking to and fro just to fetch their family’s daily quota. Realising that this process is taking a heavy toll on their health and productivity, CGPL had pledged to ensure a regular supply of safe drinking water to the community as its key initiative. Jalmani Programme, launched in 2010, is a government initiative that focuses on ensuring regular water supply in schools by establishing school RO plants . The strategy adopted was setting up RO plants in each compound, so that school communities could avail of uninterrupted supply of clean treated water. CGPL partnered with the Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO) and facilitated for establishment of RO plants, technical knowhow and maintenance services training to develop individuals as ‘water managers. Now the entire process of setting up the system is carried out by the teachers.

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