Astonishingly a delicate ‘hand’ embroidery turns an ordinary piece of cloth into an item to treasure, the riot of delicious colours on a ‘tie and dye’ show piece. These are some of the much-acclaimed, much-in-demand traditional art forms–kept alive by crafts folks in rural Gujarat, who make a living out of these. 60 year-old Suratiben, resident of Vandh village in coastal Kutch, is one of them. “I have been engaged in embroidery and tie and dye work since childhood”, she says. It is not difficult, therefore, to imagine her deep distress, when her eyesight began to fail. She needed a surgery to remove the cataract, but neither had the money nor the wherewithal to travel to the nearest city to get it done. Suratiben was in despair, when the doctors came calling at her doorstep. Quite literally. Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), the wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company, was organising ‘Eye camp’s in villages that lie within the site of its flagship project the 4000 MW Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project.
The Company’s health initiative—Netra Raksha Abhyan (Protect the Eye Campaign) had been triggered off in Tunda-Vandh, Mota Kandagra of Mundra; Nanabhadia, Tragadi and Modva of Mandvi Taluka. And its volunteer taskforce was driving it on full throttle. They distributed leaflets, used notice boards, even went from door to door to spread the word around. And they succeeded in cajoling the willing yet apprehensive Suratiben to avail of the free of cost surgery option that was being financed by CGPL.
Today, Suratiben is back to leading the life of a busy professional. “I am travelling all over the country again, promoting my art and earning my livelihood,” she declares, her voice ringing with pride, “Thank God for CGPL.”
Ask 72 year -old Bachubhai Ramji, resident of Tunda village in coastal Kutch, Gujarat, what did he consider to be his most prized possessions, it takes him less than a minute to collect his thoughts. “My cottage, my bullock and…my health card,” he declares. Ramji’s story is not very different from that of Suratiben’s. “I had a lot of difficulty to see from one eye as it was swollen and swore. The check-ups at hospitals in the area are very expensive and related surgeries are even more expensive. It also takes long and expensive travels to avail any such medical help”, he recounts.
Then the unexpected happened. An eye camp was set up in his village, literally at his doorstep. It was being managed by doctors from city hospitals, and was well stocked with medicines and equipment. At the end, health cards were made for all the patients that noted their medical history, and also the status of health in the villages they live in.
The company has also organized referral services at the nearest city. With three days stay, food and other residential facilities. So Ramji’s treatment has begun. In earnest. Today he openly concedes, “The Netra initiative of CGPL got my vision back for me.”
The Community Relations team of CGPL claim that the Company’s ultimate objective is to establish itself as the ‘neighbour of choice’, and create an environment where local communities would unequivocally identify it as ‘the most desirable entity in the geographical canvas’.
So is CGPL progressing in the right direction? We can ask Ramji and, representatives of the local people. But need we?