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Helping rural communities

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The Essar Foundation is working closely with government agencies to provide sanitation and drainage facilities, common civic infrastructure, safe drinking water and electricity in rural areas

May 28, 2012 Bookmark and Share  
SEVEN months after the devastating floods of October 2009 in northern Karnataka claimed hundreds of lives, displaced thousands of people and destroyed crops and homes, the Essar Foundation handed over the keys to more than a hundred homes to the state government for distribution to the affected people.

Days after the floods, the Essar Group entered into an agreement with the state government of Karnataka to build more than 150 homes in two villages in Bijapur district, as part of its CSR initiative to rehabilitate flood-hit communities.

The Essar Foundation, which drives the group’s CSR initiatives across diverse geographies and communities, is investing in rural infrastructure to make basic amenities available to India's villages. A large part of its activities are focused on the development of the villages of India. Over the years, the Essar Group has invested significantly in the development of these rural areas, and in doing so, has strengthened the ability of those areas and their people to play a crucial part in the country's growth.

The Foundation is now building on that history of community development to create a sustainable framework that allows Essar companies to amplify the positive impact they have. With more than 60 per cent of Indians living in villages, rural areas are critical to the nation's growth.

While there has been some progress in recent years, much remains to be done. Since public resources are limited, private participation becomes essential. The Essar Foundation, for its part, works closely with the government and other elected representatives, to provide basic amenities in rural areas near its operations.

Its objectives in the infrastructure segment include assisting communities to develop and enhance basic amenities, strengthen existing civic infrastructure and introduce new amenities. Its activities and projects cover aspects such as provision of sanitation and drainage facilities, provision of common civic infrastructure, provision of safe drinking water and rural electrification project.

The Essar Foundation has instituted a program that supports the construction of household and community toilets to further the effort of creating a hygienic and healthy environment. The program works in conjunction with the government’s Total Sanitation Campaign wherever possible. It also funds the building of drainage facilities, prioritizing areas where the government has no drainage systems in place.

The Foundation's infrastructure program helps construct and maintain approach roads, internal roads and other civic infrastructure in villages. It also enables the development of shared community spaces. The focus is on infrastructure such as homes for the elderly and community libraries, with the aim of building long-term capabilities. Local tribal leaders are also encouraged to be active in the program so as to better identify community needs.

Provision of clean and safe drinking water is a vital aspect of a robust infrastructure system. The Foundation’s infrastructure program regularly provides one million liters of water to communities around its areas of operation. It provides water in about 45 villages in about six states and about 35,000 villagers have gained from this project. The Foundation enables access to safe drinking water by ensuring cleaning of wells and provision of tap water, deepening and de-silting of ponds, installation of hand pumps, bore wells and desalination plants.

Over the next two years, the Foundation plans to encourage rainwater harvesting and other environment-friendly activities in its area of operations.

In the area of rural electrification, the Foundation enables people in villages to access the government's electricity distribution network including wiring, transformers and other equipment. It provides rural households access to solar electricity, which is both low-cost and energy efficient. So far 190 households in rural Odisha and Madhya Pradesh have benefited from the program. The Foundation has also installed street lighting at Raniganj in West Bengal.

The 3E framework
The Essar Foundation seeks to positively impact the lives of all who come in contact with the Group's operations. The 3E framework is a way of focusing efforts and resources.
Within that framework – covering Entrepreneurship, Environment and Education – six long- standing programs exist. They focus on education, health, women's empowerment, livelihood, infrastructure and environment.
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