Construction companies play a major role in the socio-economic development of India, through employment generation and infrastructure development. In addition to this, they contribute toward social welfare and community development through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives. Let us look at three construction companies in the country that take CSR seriously.
Larsen and Toubro Limited
Larsen & Turbo was founded in the year 1938 by Henning Holck-Larsen and Soren Kristian Toubro. The company offers a wide range of services including construction, thereby contributing to the development of the country.
Long before CSR was mandated by the Companies Act 2013, L&T was providing health and educational services to the underprivileged around its campuses. Today, L&T’s CSR programmes are well-established, focusing on areas that align with the global and national matrices of development: water & sanitation, health, education and skill-building. Total spending on CSR in FY 2020-21 was Rs. 150.06 crores which is 2.062% of profit after tax, above the mandated 2%.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown severely impacted the social sector as much as the economy. Health, Education, Skilling were among the most seriously impacted sectors. L&T, through its CSR efforts, responded swiftly to address the immediate needs of augmenting the health infrastructure, addressing lost livelihoods and supporting those suffering from Covid-19. The conglomerate reached out to 12 states in India with a spend of over Rs. 36 crores for Covid Relief in 2020-21.
The CSR of L&T has been on the frontlines in several ways – through setting up ICUs for treating Covid-19 patients, equipping Government hospitals with ventilators, providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, gloves and masks to health workers, as well as making available basic provisions like food to those in need. Most of the staff working on the CSR programmes assumed responsibility to educate communities about prevention and safety measures in the project areas and were available for counselling as well as referrals.
During the lockdown, an L&T initiative ensured food security to underprivileged children in Mumbai as a first response to the pandemic. Under its CSR initiatives, for over 10 years now, L&T has been reaching out to children in the slums around its Powai, Mumbai and Mahape (New Mumbai) campuses through balwadis and after-school study centres. These children belong to families that have just one daily-wage earning member, all of whom lost their livelihoods due to the lockdown. Thus, L&T’s primary concern during the lockdown was to ensure that these children should at least have food security. In collaboration with NGO partner Save The Children India (STCI), it undertook relief work to aid these children and their families, as well as other vulnerable families, all residing across Powai and Turbhe. Ration kits were provided to as many as 1,400 beneficiaries. Sanitation kits containing bathing and washing soap, toothpaste, hair oil and sanitary pads were also distributed among these families.
Soon after the first phase of the lockdown from March 24, reports started pouring in about daily-wage earners and migrant workers in Mumbai having no access to food supplies and even shelter. The local administration responded by setting up relief camps and food canteens, but the number of the distressed were overwhelming and the risk of many slipping through the cracks was imminent. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) approached corporates and NGOs for support. L&T and an NGO partner, Pratham Mumbai Education Initiative, responded quickly to the pressing needs. On March 30, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and others together launched an initiative named the Mumbai Food Project. L&T was one of the first supporters of this humanitarian drive. Temporary food camps and distribution zones were set up across Mumbai, serving nearly 8,000 packaged meals and kits of essential items a day. The drive was carried out through NGO Pratham’s well-established network and community programmes, with the much-needed support from MCGM.
In Chennai (Tamil Nadu) too, L&T swung into action to meet the urgent needs of the community. Frontline workers and staff at hospitals put in every effort to ensure the required care for patients in these tough times. There were many patients, caretakers, health workers and hospital staff in hospitals with no access to essentials, especially food. To mitigate their food problem, L&T, in association with the NGO YRG Foundation served 43,150 hygienically prepared meals (2500 meals per day for 17 days) across 7 government hospitals in Chennai. Another 20,000 meals were distributed in association with the ‘Feed My Chennai’ programme to people in distress (especially migrant workers and homeless people) who got stranded due to the lockdown and did not have access to food. The Government’s efforts to prevent the Covid infection and treat the infected were falling short, with limited overburdened resources. L&T responded to this challenge by supporting health infrastructure, providing protective gear and supplies for frontline workers as well as donating treatment, testing and diagnostic equipment.
In March 2020, most of L&T’s CSR projects were in readiness to be rolled out for the FY 2020-21. However, the pandemic struck, and the lockdown was announced. The enormity of the pandemic and its impact on the most vulnerable communities that the company worked with through CSR projects, posed a challenge. This was addressed by revisiting the projects, re-strategising them in line with the changed reality and reallocating resources. NGO partners were supported, so as to be at the forefront in order to reach out to communities by adapting to the new normal. L&T continued to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in all possible ways, and touched the lives of 12,139,76 individuals in 2021.
To make health care accessible and affordable to the underprivileged, L&T undertakes several CSR initiatives. The company’s 12 multi-speciality Health Centres are professionally staffed and provide outpatient and tertiary health services. Focus is laid on preventing infant, child and maternal mortality. Psychiatric OPDs and counselling clinics provided services for mental health and stress-related issues. A child guidance clinic supported parents and children who have behavioural problems and are scholastically backward.
L&T provided medical equipment and construction/refurbishment services to health centres and hospitals run by the Government or charitable trusts. Mobile vans took L&T’s health services to the underprivileged. Specialised health camps covered eye care, dental, paediatric and gynaecological care. Camps on reproductive health were conducted for deprived children and adolescents. Camps on preventive education and early diagnosis were held – especially for women, with a focus on breast and cervical cancers. Mammography and pap smear services were also provided.
L&T has a comprehensive programme for HIV/AIDS management and diagnostic and counselling facilities. It provided the Government’s free Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) at its ART health centre in Mumbai in association with the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO). The company runs artificial kidney dialysis centres for the underprivileged at highly subsidised rates at its Health Centres at Mumbai, Thane, Vadodara, Surat and Chennai.
GMR Infrastructure Limited
GMR Infrastructure Ltd. was founded in the year 1978 by Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao. The top Infrastructure development company is headquartered in New Delhi. The company has implemented several infrastructure projects in the country.
GMR Infrastructure has been active on the corporate social responsibility front since 1991. GMR Varalakshmi Foundation (GMRVF) is the corporate social responsibility arm of the GMR Group. GMRVF supports the companies under the Group in implementing their CSR mandates. GMRVF’s purpose is to work in the fields of Education, Health and Empowerment such that its activities directly benefit mainly the communities in the immediate neighbourhood of the Group’s projects. Currently, GMRVF is working with selected communities in 20 locations in India. The locations are spread across different states namely Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Ltd.
Shapoorji Pallonji is one of the top 10 construction companies in India. The company has been taking its CSR initiatives very seriously with an intent to create a sustainable and responsible business that protects the environment, enhances skill and creates employment opportunities for the labour market, and preserves the culture and heritage of the areas. Some of the impactful initiatives of the company include the following:
Jal Daan – Jal Daan is an initiative for providing safe drinking water and promoting good health through a nationwide run campaign in rural areas. Launched by Eureka Forbes, the aim of the program is to treat poor water quality and contribute water to support the local community garnered over 3 million pledges benefitting over 10,000 schoolchildren and villages.
SP Forest – In an effort to reduce carbon footprint, the program aims to make greener projects by using existing construction areas and afforesting the client’s land as a part of the project. Over 500 trees have now grown in 11 SP Forests that have been built on the company’s sites, along with thousands of trees planted every World Environment Day.
Rural Education Programmes – These programs focus on building education daycare centres for improving literacy rates, supporting educational improvement programmes across 81 schools and offering skills training to empower the underprivileged rural youth.
Flood Relief – The company’s disaster relief initiatives in Uttarakhand, 2013, and in Jammu and Kashmir, 2014, involved support by supplying food and water supplies, medical provisions, blankets, and solar lanterns and water filter units, helping families get back on their feet.