For Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), the wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company, the Community Relations (CR) programme has never been a side show. Nor has it ever been reduced to a series of disjointed activities strung together to win favours from stakeholders or avoid the ire of regulators. CGPL’s CR strategy is steadfastly focused on one particular goal. To emerge as a genuine ‘neighbour of choice’ for the local communities living in Mundra and Mandvi talukas in Kutch district of Gujarat. The villages lie within the project site of CGPL’s flagship scheme, the 4000 MW Ultra Mega Power Plant.
Here the Company has rolled out and executed a multi-dimensional community development programme. The programs are spread across different domains of Livelihood Linked Ecology \Biodiversity (Animal Husbandry, Working with the Fishermen Community, Agriculture enhancement programs, Water Harvesting Conservation etc), Basic needs (Education, Public health, Drking water and Sanitation Livelihood Promotion through SHGs etc) and on Social Capital and Infrastructure (in the concept of Model village, waste management, Rural Engergy etc) to attain the programmatic sustainability. It is also encouraging employee volunteering with the communities – in the past seven years since it set up business in coastal Kutch, CGPL has explored every avenue to intensify and maximize its engagement with the local people.
Has CGPL’s strategy yielded dividends? It’s an emphatic yes from analysts and experts. And there is enough evidence visible on the ground to support their stand.
But let us not finalise the verdict before seeking feedback from the stakeholders who are most affected. The local people. And to critique CGPL’s performance let us focus on any one of the core sectors. For instance, Education.
When CGPL identified this area as the site for its ambitious Ultra Mega Power Plant, it had done a close survey of the catchment villages that lay within. As far as schools were concerned the scenario revealed was quite dismal. The primary and preprimary sections were in a shambles, requiring 90 per cent shoring up. The higher levels, too, were barely better.
It was not as if the government was unaware of the problem. It had a number of initiatives launched on the ground, using its flagship scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, as a tool to overhaul the schools’ infrastructure and other educational support. But work had just begun, no impact was visible yet.
CGPL, at this stage, decided to pitch in so that the reforms could be introduced and implemented faster and more effectively.
In this endeavour, the Company introduced some very innovative concepts in partnership with the local government and certain nonprofit organisations, which are known for their expertise and experience in the field of education.
In the past few years CGPL has helped the schools take giant strides forward by providing new infrastructure, creating fresh resource materials for students, enhancing the use of technology in schools and organising skill building workshops for teachers in rural schools, increasing the learning achievements in the schools etc.
How are the parents and guardians, and other members of the neighbouring communities, responding to these changes?
Here is a sample of opinions from a diverse group of stakeholders:
“Mundra and Mandvi villages have seen many positive changes with CGPL’s efforts. The launch of the educational learning stations have been of great help to us to increase education facilities and spark interest in students to attend school. CGPL has given educational kits to students; this has attracted more student enrollments and less drop outs in the area. The schools have requested for more educational kits for the coming academic year and CGPL has readily agreed to support this initiative. They are always supportive and helpful when required. CGPL has ushered in a new dynamism and positive outlook in people with their efforts”, says Mr Gameti, ex Taluka Development Officer, Mandvi.
“I have been a teacher for 11 years in government schools and currently am a teacher at the Mota Kandagra Government School. CGPL has added tremendous professional value to me since they organized a teacher’s training workshop which taught me better methods of teaching, discussed issues faced in education and provided solutions for the same. The training also increased my knowledge on management, research and administration related topics.” says Krishnaben, Teacher, Mota Kandagara.
‘’Multi Media computers have been installed outside our classrooms in schools. Students can access and use this facility. These were installed a year and a half ago. Through these computers we get a better understanding of the topic at hand and it gives us more practical knowledge and examples than just reading theory. My interest in coming to school and learning has highly increased with the use of computers in the course. Enrollments have also increased in the school since every kid these days wants to learn how to use computers and feels excited to be able to learn on computers,” enthuses Hardip Singh, student, Tunda village
Fuelled by such powerful affirmation, the CGPL brigade has surged forth, signaling the start of the next phase. Godspeed.
Source: CGPL Annual Plan CR, 2014-2015 and Reflection 2013-2014