At the level of industrial development, three Essar companies have invested in Odisha. Essar Steel has commitments through its 12MTPA beneficiation plant in Dabuna and a 6 MTPA pellet plant in Paradip while Essar Ports operates terminals at the Paradip Port and Essar Energy has plans for power generation plants in Navabharat and Paradip and is also exploring coal bed methane sites at Talcher and IB Valley.
But beyond that, Essar has a longstanding commitment to the people of Odisha — to ensure that the industrial development goes hand in hand with social, environmental and economic development that benefits all communities.
Essar Foundation has been participating in improving the living standards of the tribal communities that dominate the hinterland of Odisha. One of its first initiatives was to set up an Industrial Training Centre near the Essar Steel beneficiation plant in Dabuna in Keonjhar District in northern Odisha. The Centre opened in August 2012, with the start of an electrician's trade course, which commenced with 42 students. The initiative focused on providing technical training so as to help improve the employment prospects of the local (mainly tribal) communities — and thereby improve their livelihood, living standards, and the local economy.
The Foundation subsequently also opened a training centre at Katupali Village, near Dabuna, where women learn tailoring. Beyond the training project, Essar Steel is engaged in a more significant initiative — assisting women in their efforts to form self-help groups (SHGs) with entrepreneurial goals. Its support to an SHG mela organized at Dabuna resulted in the formation of more than 25 SHGs in the region. It was not surprising, then, that the 2013 International Women's Day on March 8 saw the presence of the eminent Padmasree Ms Tulasi Munda at the Dabuna plant.
Of equal importance to the community are the Foundation's healthcare initiatives. Especially beneficial to women and children, given that they face more problems in travelling to distant hospitals, a much needed healthcare center has been established by Essar Foundation, in partnership Essar Steel, in the vicinity of the Dabuna plant. The Foundation is also looking into running a healthcare center at Telkoi in Keonjhar.
Additionally, it periodically organizes health camps in villages in the vicinity of Essar plants and operations in Odisha. And in December 2012, in a unique initiative, it launched a comprehensive dental healthcare program for school children in Odisha. This program aims to cover about 6,000 children from 26 schools in 17 villages in Jagatsinghpur District by the end of 2013 and expand coverage further, subsequently.
Another unique initiative that Essar Foundation has launched is focused on developing livelihood opportunities. The idea arose from an existing project in Malkangiri District, in southern Odisha. Essar Foundation has helped improve livelihood opportunities in quite a different way. Collaborating with the district administration to improve infrastructure facilities — focusing especially on water supply and sanitation, roads, and solar lights. — in remote villages, the Foundation saw in this an opportunity to help improve employment as well.
The innovative result was that the local youth were given training in brick-making; additionally, the Foundation has provided brick-making machines to the villages and trained people in the use of these machines. Its collaboration with the district administration in developing infrastructure facilities ensures a ready market for the bricks produced.
Thus, across Odisha — from Keonjhar in the north to Malkangiri in the south, in some of the most remote villages, crossing difficult terrain and involving communities that are among the most marginalized in India — Essar is espousing development, partnering government and communities in their mutual striving for a prosperous Odisha.