North-east India has been the most neglected region when it comes to corporate social responsibility. However, the tide is turning. CSR spending in the northeastern region has witnessed a sharp spike over the past five years, with corporate houses and public sector enterprises giving more importance to north-eastern states in their CSR planning and budget. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), four north-eastern states recorded a jump of 200% in CSR funding between 2014-15 to 2018-19. Assam is the biggest beneficiary in the region.
The state of Assam had only 59 companies undertaking CSR activities in the year 2014-15. The number more than doubled, with a total of 124 companies participating in CSR activities in the state in the financial year 2018-19, according to the MCA. The state gets almost 72% of the total funding pie coming to the north-east region. We are listing out the large corporations that have been successfully implementing CSR activities in Assam over the years.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has taken up a mega CSR initiative towards addressing the health care concerns of people in the Northeast by setting up a Multi-Speciality Hospital in Sivasagar, Assam. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Vaidakiya Pratisthan, Aurangabad is the Construction Management Operating Partner of the hospital. The hospital has 300 beds and treats one lakh patients a year.
ONGC Super 30
ONGC Super 30 Sivasagar in Assam trains 30 students belonging to economically weaker families to get admission in premier engineering institute of the country.
The residents of Narayanpur Rail Basti Village in Silchar District of Cachar District (Assam) were facing hardship for decades because of non-availability of electricity. Through this CSR project, two village women were trained for six months on all components of solar electrification at Barefoot College. The two women set up the entire solar electrification of every house in their village. Henceforth, the entire village will have solar powered electricity with all the repair and maintenance being done by the two women.
ONGC CSR trains women of Sivasagar district in water hyacinth craft to become self-sustainable. Five of the women have been trained in advance design at the prestigious National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad to become master trainers.
120 youth from Assam were trained in Welding and Gas gutting through Welding Institute of India at Sivasagar. Majority of the trainees are gainfully employed in reputed companies after completion of the course while the remaining were engaged in local industry.
HDFC Bank forayed into Assam 17 years ago when it had opened a branch in Guwahati. The bank’s endeavour had been to make a difference in people’s lives through its banking services and social initiatives. Over the years, the bank has not only helped contribute towards economic development and employment generation for the people of Assam but also brought about holistic and sustainable change through its CSR initiatives. This is being done through #Parivartan, the umbrella for all its social initiatives.
Annual flash floods in Assam affect thousands of villagers. Those living around the rivers Subansiri, Ranganadi and Hingora are some of the most severely impacted by floods given that their villages get entirely submerged up to 6 feet. HDFC Bank, under the Holistic Rural Development Programme, facilitated the establishment of High Raised Platforms (HRP) to save village dwellers and animals.
Constructed at a height of approximately 7 feet, the rescue homes — surrounded by plants that prevent soil erosion — are also attached with gender-separate toilets to prevent open defecation. To ensure the sustainability and proper management of the HRP, each of the 11 villages created a Village Development Committee (VDC) along with a taskforce group trained by the Civil Defence Department to move the victims in case of flooding. For early warning, mic sets were also provided to the taskforce groups. About 350 families took shelter during flooding in 2020, and over 400 plus animals were also safeguarded.
The VDC, after discussions with the villagers, decided to use the HRP structure during non-flooding season as well, transforming it into a VDC office and Farmers’ Resource Centre. The HRP intervention has helped over 1,200 families over the years.
After widespread devastation in 1984 because of the embankment breach of Ghogra canal in Nalbari, hundreds of villagers who had cultivated crops on the bank of the canal suffered loss of their land. Once the water receded, the deserted floodplain became a hotbed for crimes, including abduction. Lack of supervision of the usage of the floodplain allowed the settling of illegal migrants. To stop further exploitation of the area, HDFC Bank Parivartan along with its implementation partner launched the concept of Integrated Farmers’ School. The floodplain & non-cultivable land was subsequently restored.
Furthermore, the CSR initiative allows for farmer linkages – giving them access to knowledge on related activities – & encourages the younger generation to explore agriculture. It has also acted as a hub for accelerating economic growth for over 500 farmers from adjoining villages over the past five years. The farmers were also given equipment support for initial operation. The platform has thus far helped form a farmers’ collective that could cover over 1,000 farmers.
Clean Drinking Water
In Nalbari, over 10,000 water sources were found to contain arsenic & over 1,200 were found to be contaminated with fluoride. Its consumption causes dental & skeletal fluorosis, cases mostly found to be in children with symptoms such as bent legs, and discoloured, brittle teeth. In order to provide clean drinking water, HDFC Bank Parivartan set up 10 solar-powered water systems, 1 advanced RO and 2 arsenic removal plants which were handed over to the community to manage. A Water User Group was formed through the Water Treatment Management Committee, whose users were charged a minimal fee for meeting operational costs. The Bank also focused on generating awareness to improve the overall health of the villagers.
Indian Oil established the Assam Oil School of Nursing (AOSN) in 1986. It offers three-year Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) course to young girls with intake capacity of 30 students per year. Four-year B.Sc. (Nursing) course started from the same campus in 2014. Before AOSN came into being, there was a dearth of qualiled nurses in the Northeast. AOSN is able to provide opportunities to young underprivileged girls to bridge this gap and simultaneously provide them stable careers and livelihood.
Assam Oil Division Hospital, Digboi, established in 1906, is a 200-bed hospital with modern facilities. It caters to the population residing near Digboi (in Assam) and other nearby areas of the Northeast. Every year, about 1 lakh patients are treated at this hospital out of which about 15% are non-employee patients. This hospital registers about 4,000 patients for indoor admissions and conducts operative procedures on about 2,000 patients every year. Health camps of a general and specialized nature are also organized regularly by the hospital to reach out to the poor villagers in the vicinity, who have no access to medical consultations or treatment.
Indian Oil’s unique CSR initiative titled ‘Sarve Santu Niramaya’ (Good health to all) was launched in December 2012 to provide free health consultation and free medicines to human beings as well as livestock of the villages near Digboi Refinery. The company believes that good health of livestock is as important as that of the human beings, as livestock was a key livelihood generator for the villagers.
This tea company has many tea estates in India’s Assam and West Bengal, factories in Vietnam and six tea estates in Uganda. From vocational training, to empowering communities, by providing opportunities to use their local and indigenous skills to generate additional income, Mcleod Russel’s CSR initiatives in Assam generate sustainable livelihoods.
Bodo Handloom Scheme (BHS)
The Bodo community is one of the earliest tribes to settle in Assam and their complex art of weaving is an integral part of the Bodo culture. To encourage and empower the women of the Bodo community, McLeod Russel started the Bodo Handloom Scheme (BHS) in 1995 at Borengajuli Tea Estate in Assam. This highly successful community-based scheme has not only empowered numerous women to continue their cultural heritage but increased their income also.
As a part of the scheme, McLeod Russel procures yarn locally at wholesale rates which is then dyed near Borengajuli before being distributed amongst the weavers. An office and a store for yarn and finished goods have been provided to the Scheme by the McLeod tea estate and it is here that the weavers gather twice a week. In addition to providing yarn free of cost to weavers, McLeod also offers guidance in design, colour combinations, sizes and finish of the products.
Supporting small tea growers
McLeod Russel provides infrastructural and management support to small tea growers in Assam. This allows their experience of growing tea to be passed on to the local communities and encourages their sustainability in creating a livelihood and income. The company also buys these harvested leaves from small-scale tea planters to provide them the opportunity of ensuring a guaranteed sale for their crop at better than market levels. This opportunity has benefitted the communities throughout the region.
Assam Valley School
The Assam Valley School (AVS) was founded in 1995 by the Williamson Magor Education Trust and therefore finds place in the company’s contribution towards education. AVS is a co-educational residential school that offers quality education to children from Assam and beyond. The AVS school building, displaying traditions of local architecture, is set amidst a sprawling campus with extensive playing fields and separate hostels for boys and girls among other amenities.
In addition to a host of extra-curricular activities, The Assam Valley School, as a part of its curriculum, also encourages students to participate in community service initiatives like Adult Literacy Programmes and membership of The Junior Red Cross as well as several conservation tasks both on and off campus.
Assam Valley Literary Award
The Assam Valley Literary Award was instituted in 1990 with the primary objective of honouring the State’s creative geniuses who have inspired a whole new generation of creative artistes to disseminate Assam’s literary heritage. Chairman B. M. Khaitan formally announced the institution of this Award while laying the foundation stone of the Assam Valley School in February 1990.
McLeod Russel operates 55 estate hospitals and within this number includes four central hospitals at Phulbari, Paneery, Beesakopie and Dirial in Assam. Each of their central hospitals is equipped with specialist doctors, sophisticated equipment and robust infrastructure. Their individual estates function as a community, each having proper medical facility and well-trained medical personnel. These central hospitals take charge of the well-being of residents of a group of estates within a district, offering quality medical care through expert doctors, visiting specialists and supporting staff.
McLeod Russel’s free eye clinic is a first-of-its-kind initiative in Assam which aims to screen and identify patients suffering from various eye diseases, particularly cataracts. The entire cost of treatment, including operation, medication, and other hospital expenses are borne by the company. People from estates and surrounding areas regularly visit the free eye clinic to get treated.
Oil India Limited (OIL)
OIL has the largest number of CSR projects in Assam among PSUs.
Project OIL Sparsha
Started in 1980s, OIL has been implementing mobile dispensary services in OIL operational areas in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh through its in-house healthcare team of doctors and paramedics and catering to the primary healthcare needs of poor and the needy free of cost. This has been supplemented with project Sparsha under which mobile health camps are conducted in remote areas, where access to primary healthcare is a challenge. Implementing partners are St. Luke’s (Tinsukia and Chabua), a charitable hospital and Piramal Swasthya.
Project OIL Arogya
Launched in 2012-13, Project Arogya is about reduction of Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternity Mortality Rate (MMR) in and around OIL’s operational areas in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Being implemented by IL&FS Education & Technology Services (IETS) in various villages, this CSR project includes pre & post-natal health check-ups, sensitizing women on maternal, child health and benefits of institutional delivery, tracking and counseling of pregnant women, immunization of babies and pregnant women, training and awareness of on community health for better hygiene, sanitation and family planning.
OIL has undertaken various CSR activities in Assam under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by the Central government. Some of them include construction of 1471 toilets for boys and girls in government schools in seven districts of Assam, under Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan; providing garbage bins and garbage disposal trucks for garbage management of Guwahati city; training sanitation workers in OIL field headquarters, Assam under Project Anubhav. OIL has adopted Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan – Swachh Iconic Place, for development and maintenance for a period of five(5) years for a project cost of Rs 25.00 crores.
Project OIL Super 30
The project was launched in the year 2010-11, under which students from the underprivileged section of society are provided with 11-month free residential coaching/ mentoring on IIT entrance examination for admission to the prestigious IITs and other leading educational institutions of India. Assam houses Super 30 centres in Guwahati, Jorhat and Dibrugarh.
Project OIL Dikhya
The project was launched in 2012 and over the last 5 years has evolved to include several educational programmes in Assam, the most notable being Computer Education to students of rural schools via mobile computer education buses/ vans that visit each of the schools. The project is implemented in schools located in OIL’s operational areas of Upper Assam through State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD), Assam and IL&FS Education & Technical Services (IETS).
Value added sessions on creative studies, environmental science, cleanliness and behavioural science too are taught along with the computer classes. Facility of mobile library is also provided to the students. Other programmes under Project Dikhya include Knowledge-Yan with K-Class against which, since 2014-15 to 2016-17, OIL has distributed comprehensive audio-visual education devices called Knowledge-Yan or K-Yan which includes a computer, advanced projection system, DVD player and in-built audio system for students to help understand difficult courses.
Project OIL Saksham
Every year as a special gesture under the OIL Merit Scholarship Scheme, OIL provides scholarship in the form of monetary support to students with disabilities and special needs, studying in two special schools of Mrinaljyoti Rehabilitation Centre and Moran Blind School, both situated in Assam.
CSR Project OIL Saksham was initiated with the prime objective of catering to the needs of Mrinaljyoti Rehabilitation Centre (Duliajan) and Moran Blind School -J.A.A.B. (Moran) whether in terms of infrastructure development, running costs or any special project which will act as a support base for enabling the students as productive and independent citizens of the mainstream. Financial assistance was provided to the students of both the schools in the form of annual scholarships.
In another initiative started in 2016, 20 differently-abled candidates were trained in the trades of sewing machine operator and quick service restaurant from OIL’s operational areas as well as other parts of Assam.
Project OIL Rupantar
In its areas of operation, OIL is seen as the only source of direct/ indirect employment. So, OIL collaborated with State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD), Assam, to launch Project Rupantar in the year 2003 to overcome unemployment especially amongst rural youth and women. The project has since encouraged many self-help groups and joint liability groups to pursue agro-based industries, animal husbandry, sericulture, fishery, organic farming and diversification of handloom products. Aastha, a marketing outlet in OIL Field Headquarters at Duliajan, Assam, adds value to the project by providing support to the marketing needs of the SHGs.
Agriculture CSR Project
Started in the year 1991, the project in implemented under the Oil India Rural Development Society (OIRDS). The primary objective of the Agriculture project is to encourage the unemployed youth to adopt agriculture as a means of earning livelihood. Farmers are introduced to modern methods of cultivation for maximizing farm yield through in-field training by experts from Agriculture Department, Government of Assam and Assam Agriculture University. OIL has also signed MoU with AAU recently, to promote integrated farming in villages of OIL’s operational areas in Upper Assam.
Established in 1984 at the Company’s Field Headquarters, Duliajan, Assam, as OIL’s Silver Jubilee Year Project for women empowerment through capacity building, the centre provides nine-month stipendiary training on weaving, cutting & tailoring, embroidery & knitting to young women for generating self-employment opportunities.
A Nursing School established in 1991 in OIL Hospital at Field Headquarters, Duliajan Assam, conducts a three-year Certificate course on General Nursing & Midwifery (GNM) for young women. Each trainee is given a stipend besides hostel accommodation, uniform and protective clothing. The course is recognised by the Directorate of Medical Education, Government of Assam and certified by the Assam Nursing Council.
Sasoni Merbeel Eco-Tourism project is in close proximity to OIL field Headquarters, Duliajan, which is implemented by Sasoni Merbeel Eco-Tourism Development Committee, and has the potential of creating rural entrepreneurs besides protecting flora and fauna of the region. OIL has supported the project with solar lighting, pedal boats, bio digester and battery-driven eco-friendly vehicles.
OIL was one of the first PSUs to adopt rhino calves orphaned by the devastating floods of 2016 in Kaziranga National Park. The rhino calves are undergoing rehabilitation for reintroduction in the wild later.
For around two decades OIL has been involving local youth clubs and school children for promoting games and sports with focus on athletics, by organizing Rural Sports events in villages in its operational areas in Assam, in collaboration with social groups, district administration and sports bodies. These OIL-sponsored rural sports events have produced young athletes who are now participating at district, state and national levels.
Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL)
GCPL joined hands with the Health Department of Assam to boost the healthcare infrastructure of hospitals handling COVID-19 cases. The relief efforts, part of GCPL’s CSR initiative, comprises of setting up 38 ICU beds at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) along with adequate supply of Godrej Protekt sanitisers. The total investment behind these initiatives is more than Rs. 28 lakhs. This is one of the multiple initiatives undertaken by GCPL to help provide support to healthcare workers and COVID-19 patients.
As part of its latest relief efforts, in consultation with the Assam Health Ministry, Godrej Consumer also distributed more than 700 food kits to contract workers and local community members, whose livelihoods were impacted by the pandemic. Furthermore, GCPL gave hygiene kits including masks, soaps and sanitisers to over 2,400 transporters in the state.
GCPL was one of the first company to adapt to the unfolding situation both in terms of a plan of action for the community as well as its own employees. The company realised the urgent need of philanthropic and corporate support to ensure immediate relief efforts and medium to long term recovery initiatives. GCPL partnered with government, municipal bodies, civil society organisations and citizen initiatives in order to reach the largest number of the most vulnerable communities.