ANGUL: The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed lives world over. It emerged as a health crisis but went on to trigger social and economic crisis, threatening wellbeing and lives of people in most countries. Both Centre and Odisha government imposed restrictions like closure of public institutions and facilities to ensure social distancing, mobility and public transport through lockdowns and shutdowns. People were stranded on road, widespread loss of livelihood was reported as social and economic activities were paused.
JSPL Foundation, the CSR arm of Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), stepped up efforts and joined hands with the government and community, especially around its operational areas in three eastern States - Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand to defeat the COVID pandemic. Guided by JSPL Chairman Naveen Jindal and under leadership of Shallu Jindal, chairperson of JSPL Foundation, the CSR arm started its on-ground services, helping the poor and vulnerable, immediately after the announcement of COVID-19 lockdown in the country.
At Angul, JSPL Foundation collaborated with the district administration as well as the locals to defeat the drudgery of the pandemic. Beginning March 29, 2020, it started providing cooked food and dry ration to the needy and vulnerable under it ‘Mission Zero Hunger’ initiative around all the operational locations of JSPL in three states. The Foundation provided 1,70,000 meals to street dwellers, the stranded truck drivers and migrant workforce and other poor and vulnerable people.
In Angul district alone, 25,000 meals were provided. Besides, JSPL Foundation supplied dry rations for 90 days to various destitute shelters and care homes such as old age homes, child care centres, shelter homes for destitute women and homes for special children. Food materials such as rice, dal, oil, jaggery, sugar, chiwda, poha, potatoes, onions, soybean and black peas were given to them which constituted materials for about 1,30,000 meals.
Besides providing food to the vulnerable, JSPL Foundation also took several measures to prevent spread of COVID-19 in and around JSPL’s steel plants. It distributed more than three lakh face masks among the community members, frontline COVID-19 warriors. It also provided face cover masks and sanitary kits to all the anganwadi workers and helpers in 1,654 anganwadi centres of Angul district. In Angul district only, 1.2 lakh facemasks were distributed. Similarly, more than 70,000 families, including 30,000 in Angul, benefited by the sanitisers, soaps and phenyl distributed by the Foundation.
Interestingly, these masks, sanitisers and hand wash were made by women members of Self Help Groups promoted by JSPL Foundation. Production of the masks, sanitisers, hand wash and phenyl, for which they have certified license, the women SHG members generated cash income during the wage crunch period. More than 250 vegetable and dairy farmers of Angul were supported to make regular supply of their farm produces in the local community.
During the period, ‘Asha The Hope’ centre run by JSPL Foundation at Angul that provides rehabilitation and support services to specially-abled children continued its support through mobile and online means. It organised video sessions and online counseling to ensure no loss of acquired knowledge and skills by the children with special needs. The therapists also provided doorstep services, benefitting about 60 specially-abled children. ‘Asha The Hope’ centre at Raigarh and Patratu extended similar support services in their respective areas.
JSPL Foundation also organised awareness sessions on prevention of COVID-19 in rural areas and sensitised community members on social distancing, hand washing and hygiene, need for staying at home and following lock down rules. It used various channels like radio jingles in local languages, community meetings (with social distancing), demonstrations and social media to create awareness.
JSPL also provided 19 tons of oxygen for use by various COVID-19 hospitals in Angul District.
The company contributed ` 25 crore to PM CARES Fund to fight the global pandemic. Besides, it also distributed more than 60,000 hot cooked meals among the slum dwellers and migrant workers in Delhi.
The company supported its own employees and workers during the pandemic. Work from home, regular communication on preventive measures and self-care to fight COVID-19, arrangement of sanitisers, hand wash, mask, thermal screening etc. for employees were regularly provided. A team of doctors dedicated to each unit of the steel company were set up for supervising health of the employees.