Kochi, the city formerly known as Cochin, is one of the fastest growing second-tier metros in India. Kochi was known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, because ships from Asian and European countries were visiting her port since the 14th century. With its interesting monuments and forts, geographic peculiarities and emerging cosmopolitan nature, this city is popular with tourists and millennials looking to live near the sea.
Strictly speaking, Kochi is a small town but it has outgrown its original bounds and is now the general name given to the region adjoining the original town, which now includes Cochin, Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Ernakulam and many other nearby towns and villages. Kochi is situated in Ernakulam district in the State of Kerala, but for all practical purposes Ernakulam, Cochin and Kochi refer to the same place.
NASSCOM has named Kochi the second most attractive city in India for IT-based services. With the advent of industrial parks and increasing urbanisation in the last decade, there has been a boom in the construction and real estate business in Kochi. The industrial parks have advanced facilities to cater effectively to the needs of various industry verticals such as IT, tourism, engineering, garment production and rubber production. The parks based on IT and ITES services are the ones that have seen the most success.
The presence of big names like BPCL Kochi Refinery, the Cochin Shipyard Limited, Fertilizer and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. (FACT), Hindustan Organic Chemicals (HOC) and Apollo Tyres have contributed greatly to the city’s status as the industrial capital of Kerala. CSR in Kochi has vast potential, especially for the villages surrounding the city. Here are some of the latest corporate social responsibility interventions making a difference there.
Sightsavers India and Cholamandalam’s CSR for truck drivers
Sightsavers India and Cholamandalam on March this year announced the inauguration of Raahi Vision Centre in Kalamassery, Kochi in collaboration with SSM Foundation. The centre aims to promote road safety by providing free eye screenings and spectacles to truck drivers and allied staff in the trucking community.
The Raahi Vision Centre is funded by Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company Limited. The centre will conduct screening and awareness programs for lorry drivers and allied staff of the trucking community, providing spectacles free of charge after the screening. The centre will also organize screening programs on Saturdays at lorry drivers’ hubs and factories, as per the announcement. Truck drivers’ associations and factories can contact the program coordinator to schedule screenings at their campuses.
Smiths Group India installs solar panels at SOS Children’s Village Kochi
Smiths Group India, part of the British-based global industrial technology company is supporting the NGO SOS Children’s Village of India in Kochi, with the installation of solar panels worth over INR 44 lakhs. The solar panels have been set-up at SOS Children’s Village and Youth Home in Kochi under the CSR programme ‘Akriti: Reshaping Lives by Smiths’. Akriti aims at engaging Smiths colleagues in India in a meaningful way to contribute to the communities. In turn, this forms part of Smiths Group’s wider sustainability efforts.
The installed solar panels will play a vital role in encouraging sustainability, vital for the preservation of the environment, and indirectly for securing wholesome development of children and youth. In addition, three family homes at SOS Children’s Village Kochi, Bawana and Pune are being sponsored by the Company.
Solar energy is essential used for meeting growing energy demands, while staving off climate change. Although at a relatively small scale, solar panels installed at SOS Children’s Villages by Smiths is a step for a sustainable future.
Federal Bank’s Federal Skill Academy
As part of its CSR in Kochi, Federal Bank started the Federal Skill Academy in Kochi on Founders Day, 18th October 2015. The initiative was launched to give wings to the youth who belong to underprivileged sections of society. They can pursue this programme, provided their annual income is less than Rs. 3 Lakhs. The courses also provide the students with practical, hands-on training. It is an internationally valid certification that would open the doors to employment overseas. Federal Bank CSR also provides boarding and lodging to the group.
The number of trainees has grown rapidly and the academy has created a livelihood for the youth and also contributed to the national skilling initiative. The average placement rate is 85%. So successful was the first Federal Skill Academy that the bank decided to expand the project to three more cities – Coimbatore (2016), Kolhapur (2018) and Karnal (2019).
BPCL Kochi Refinery’s Family Strengthening Programme
BPCL Kochi Refinery has undertaken various Community Development projects in its surroundings. One such project is a Family Strengthening Programme for the tribal community in Thrissur near Kochi. The CSR project focuses on the holistic development of 143 tribal children by providing healthcare services, nutrition support, enabling access to basic education in nearby areas of Ooru, enhancement of livelihood, reduction in school dropouts and Vocational Skill Development.
In recent months, Bharat Petroleum has been supplying medical oxygen from the BPCL Kochi Refinery to meet the shortage faced by government hospitals in the district during the COVID-19 surge. The build-own-operate unit of the Kochi Refinery has a provision to produce and store liquid oxygen of 99.7% purity. The company will supply around 1.5 tonnes of oxygen free of cost per day. Last year, the company had supplied 46 tonnes of medical oxygen when the average daily cases had risen in October-November.
Cochin Shipyard – Water-based initiatives
Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) is a government of India company, among the top integrated marine building, repair and training services players in the country and having a respected commercial and defence ship and offshore structure building facility. CSL has been actively changing the face of the district through rural development, education and plastic waste management programmes. Cochin Shipyard, through its CSR initiative, has made several interventions to conserve drinking water and to ensure the availability of potable drinking water for thousands.
Cochin Shipyard has supported Ambadimala Drinking Water Supply Scheme at Chottanikkara Grama Panchayat in Kochi. The company has built a water pump house in the Ambadimala settlement colony and Pallimala area in Chottanikkara Grama Panchayath along with people’s representatives. Drinking water is pumped to the houses of the settlement colony for at least four hours a day through a public pipeline system for the benefit of more than 500 poor families in the area.
CSL supported the Alleppey Dicosean Charitable and Social Welfare Society for establishing roof top water harvesting system in four Gram Panchayaths of Ernakulum and Alappuzha districts. The four panchayath include Palluurhi, Kuthiyathodu, Pattanakkad and Kanjikuzhi. The company joined hands with the society for the cause of the development of the traditional fisherfolk in these villages. The CSR project envisages safe drinking water supply by establishing a rainwater harvesting system for the benefit of 50 selected families in the coastal stretches. The project has helped to reduce the drudgery of women who otherwise had to walk long distance to fetch water.
CSL in association with Ernakulam District Administration undertook a CSR project for rejuvenation and maintenance of 100 ponds across the district. Initiated by the District administration and executed by the Haritha Kerala Mission with the help of the local bodies, NSS and other socially involved agencies, more than 100 ponds and water bodies were cleaned and revitalised. The project helped rejuvenate and replenish the groundwater table of the area. Crops from paddy fields and other cultivation in the adjoining areas improved.
CSL also supported Urava – Water ATM Project at Attappady, Palakkad District. The two major rivers, Bhavani and Siruvani in that area are polluted and the shortage of clean water has been cited as one of the major reasons for the unhealthy living conditions of the 100 odd tribal settlements in that area. Clean water is supplied through water ATMs located at four tribal settlements. Inspired by its impact, CSL proposes to extend this to more tribal settlements. This has also prompted other corporate donors to support this project, which will help scale this project further.