Protesting villagers of UltraTech Cement’s adopted village at Awarpur in Chandrapur district in Maharashtra have finally ended their hunger strike and protests after the company agreed to look into their demands. UltraTech Cement Limited is the cement flagship company of the prestigious Aditya Birla Group.
Alleging irregularities in CSR practices of Aditya Birla Group’s UltraTech Cement, a chain of hunger strikes was observed from 13-18 November, followed by a hunger strike for three days against Ultratech Cement Company in Korpana Taluka of Maharashtra’s Chandrapur. This was done on behalf of the Sarpanch Association of the adopted village at Awarpur in Korpana Taluka of Chandrapur. The villagers have been protesting since the past week accusing the company of irregularities in their CSR practices, which was earlier reported by The CSR Journal.
District Guardian Minister intervenes
Following the hunger strike, Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is the Guardian Minister of the district, intervened in the matter. Mungantiwar along with the district administration has instructed the management at Ultratech Cement to fulfill the demands of the Sarpanch Association. The hunger strike finally ended on 18th November at around 1 pm after a written assurance from the Ultratech Cement Company management to fulfill the demands of the villagers.
Taking cognizance of this movement, Sudhir Mungantiwar, District Collector Vinay Gowda, Chief Executive officer, Zilla Parishad, Chandrapur, Vivek Johnson, Former Zilla Parishad President Devrao Bhau Bhongle, Korpana Tehsildar P.S Whatkar, UltraTech CSR Head Pratik Wankhede and representatives from the Sarpanch Association had a meeting in Chandrapur on 20th November.
Demands of the villagers
During the meeting, All India Sarpanch Association District Secretary Ratnakar Chatap discussed the demands on behalf of the adopted village Sarpanch Association. In the meeting, it was decided that UltraTech will have to spend CSR funds for the development of the village including renovation of the Pandan road in the village, a demand which has also received a nod from Guardian Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
Villagers have further demanded that ITI and Polytechnic students from the locality and the adopted village should be given priority for written examination and verbal interview for apprentice/training as per the requirements of UltraTech Cement Limited Awarpur.
The company has been requested to construct well-equipped playgrounds in the adopted village and install pollution control equipment immediately. While spending the CSR funds, the company has been advised to collaborate and work together with the Gram Panchayat Administration by Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
On behalf of the village Sarpanch Association, questions were also raised regarding the salary of the contract workers working in Ultratech Cement Company. To look into their demands regarding the same, Minister Mungantiwar has called a meeting with the Labor Welfare Commissioner and assured the delegation that the issues would be discussed.
CSR-related allegation against Aditya Birla Group once again
This is not the first time that there have been CSR-related allegations against the prestigious Aditya Birla Group. Not more than a year ago, The CSR Journal had brought to the fore how Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital in Pune, which charges patients with hefty bills despite receiving CSR funds worth crores.
Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital was created by the Aditya Birla Group to serve the needs of all societal groups and as a memorial to the late Aditya Vikram Birla. This opulent multi-super specialty hospital is located in the Pune suburb of Pimpri Chinchwad.
The CSR Journal has earlier reported that Aditya Birla Finance Limited donated Rs 8 crore as CSR fund to Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital for the promotion of health care in the FY 2020–21. Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital received this fund through the implementing agency Aditya Birla Capital Foundation. However, despite receiving CSR funds, this hospital does not provide free care or even reasonably priced services to the underprivileged patients.
Despite being one of the most reputed business groups in India with turnover worth crores, despite boasting of multiple CSR programmes for benefitting the needy and underprivileged, Aditya Birla Group is hitting the headlines repeatedly for irregularities in their CSR practices.