Going the extra mile to provide Covid-19 relief measures, ONGC Foundation is committed to the development of the people and the planet in a holistic manner
ONGC Foundation was formed as a trust in 2014 by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) to develop sustainable projects that contribute to the nation’s growth. ONGC Foundation is committed to transforming lives of the disadvantaged and vulnerable sections of the society. The thrust areas for its CSR programmes are healthcare, livelihood and skill development, water and sanitation, agriculture, food and nutrition, education, environment, climate change and women empowerment.
ONGC Foundation is at the forefront when it comes to extending support during any natural calamity or humanitarian crisis. As the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted social and economic cycles in 2020, ONGC Foundation took the lead to bring normalcy in the lives of marginal and disadvantaged communities through healthcare, skill development and livelihood initiatives.
The aid started to reach the people during the initial phase of the lockdown, as stranded wage earners lost their livelihoods and homes. The foundation then extended support to hospitals by giving the required medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, deep freezers and more. And then to overcome the Covid-19 aftermath, ONGC Foundation initiated new livelihood programmes for communities living in remote regions.
As the lockdown of 2020 caused major disruptions for daily wagers, frontline workers, labourers, ONGC Foundation worked 24X7 to provide aid. ONGC Foundation leveraged the distribution networks of its partners for maximum community outreach. It distributed ration kits, hygiene kits, protective equipment and medical equipment, through its network partners. The aid reached many states, including Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Gujarat, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Assam and Maharashtra.
In Delhi, ONGC Foundation partnered with Sewa Bharti and distributed food packets to daily wagers and migrant workers. The Foundation spent Rs 19.5 lakh to distribute around 10,000 food packets daily for 15 days to 50,000+ workers. During the lethal second wave in 2021, ONGC Foundation associated with Sewa Bharti again to provide 1 isolation centre with 50 oxygen beds, at a cost of Rs 92.93 lakh.
ONGC Foundation associated with Save Child Beggar to distribute grocery items to 1,700 daily wage workers, touching the lives of over 8500+ people. The project cost was Rs 19.63 lakh.
ONGC Foundation leveraged the vast network of ISKCON to distribute over 65,000 hygienic meals to the underprivileged. It also partnered with Ram Sharan Khajani Devi Memorial Charitable Society and Gautam Gambhir Foundation to deliver grocery items and hygiene kits to 3,000 slum-dwelling families and senior citizens at their doorsteps.
The Foundation provided 13.5+ lakh protective equipment such as facemasks, hand sanitizers and face shields to the public.
Along with these efforts, ONGC Foundation also set up ventilator beds, PSA Plants and gave Cold Chain equipment to government hospitals across the country.
The largest vaccination drive in the world took off in January 2021. ONGC Foundation supported purchase of cold chain equipment, under the guidance of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, for efficient storage systems for the vaccine to reach the remotest locations without losing its potency. It delivered 10 Ice Lined Refrigerators (Small & Large) and 8 Deep Freezers (Small & Large) to Nagaland, 18 Ice Lined Refrigerators (Small & Large) to Tripura and 199 Ice Lined Refrigerators (Large), 106 Deep Freezers, 2 Walk in cooler and a Walk-in freezer to Uttarakhand. A Refrigerator truck with 32 m3 capacity was also provided to Gujarat state government. The trucks were equipped with fleet edge technology, which allowed the government to track the vaccine delivery.
The government hospital in Dehradun was one of the recipients of the aid. With new deep freezers, it was able to vaccinate people in large numbers across the city and remote areas of the district. “We do have good cold storage units for regular vaccination drives, but Covid-19 needed more equipment. We had to vaccinate a large number of people in a short span of time, so we needed more deep freezers and more modern cold storage system,” says R C Gautam, State Cold Chain Officer, Dehradun.
“Both the vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, used for Covid-19 must be stored at 2-8 ⁰ C temperature,” explains Dr. Manoj Upreti, Chief Medical Officer, Dehradun. With the storage equipment given by ONGC Foundation, the healthcare department could store more vaccines. The storage unit was monitored 24X7 in the initial phase, following the guidelines of the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.
Transporting the vaccines to remote locations and maintaining the right temperature was the key to a successful drive. Despite the challenges, the vaccines were dispatched day and night to reach the people in time and prevent the spread of the pandemic
Dr Dinesh Chauhan, District Immunization Officer, Dehradun, is all praise for the timely intervention. “We rolled out the immunization programme without a glitch. With proper equipment and infrastructure, we were able to empower our small units located in remote areas,” he says.
In April 2021, India found itself at the epicentre of the pandemic. One of the biggest challenges at this time was to provide enough medical oxygen for the patients. As the demand for medical oxygen rose multifold, hospitals were struggling to meet the oxygen demands. ONGC has worked extensively in the healthcare field and hence became the first PSU to set up 11 Pressure Swing Absorption Units (PSA plants) in government hospitals of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka to handle emergencies.
PSA is designed to take the oxygen present in the atmosphere and supply pure liquid oxygen to the patients. The machine sieves the Nitrogen particles and allows a concentrated form of oxygen supply. These PSA plants can produce up to 360 litres of oxygen per minute, sufficient for serving over 100 beds.
ONGC Foundation also built oxygen storage capacities in these government hospitals using ISO tanks, which store 3,000-21,000 litres of oxygen. A captive plant can generate all the oxygen needed for the hospital and do away the need for oxygen cylinders.
Bhavsinghji General Hospital is the only civil hospital in Porbandar district, Gujarat, and needed all the support to cater to a large influx of patients. ONGC Foundation installed a PSA plant which helped to treat 200 patients daily in the second wave of Covid-19.
Dr Dharmesh Parikh, Assistant Administrator, Government hospital, Porbandar district, Gujarat, shares that with the help of the PSA plant, all the ventilators and ICU beds became functional. “As this is a remote district, this plant made it easy to handle emergencies,” he says, highlighting the need for the 1500 LPM plant. “During the second wave, the hospital was full and this plant made it easy to supply oxygen to the patients.”
Another PSA Plant was installed in the Mon district of Nagaland as ONGC Foundation's outreach programme to cater to Covid-19 patients.
The cost to set up one such plant is about Rs 1.73 cr. Special training was given to engineers to ensure smooth functioning of the plant. ONGC Foundation will also maintain the PSA plants for the next five years.
For the people residing in and around Rajabari, Sivasagar, this multi-speciality hospital has proven to be a blessing. Assessing the need of marginalized workers of the surrounding tea gardens and residents of the neighbouring villages, ONGC Foundation had sanctioned funds of over Rs 300 cr to Aurangabad-based Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Vaidyakiya Pratishthan to build this greenfield hospital.
During Covid-19, the hospital became a life-saver for the people living in the vicinity, as all the good medical facilities are very far. Before this hospital was built, the people would have need to travel to Dibrugarh (around two hours drive) or Guwahati (around an 8-hour drive) for any treatment.
The sound infrastructure and expert doctors helped the people in the vicinity sail through the pandemic. Rajani Borgohain, a patient, talks about her treatment, “I was admitted in the extended ICU for seven days for Covid-19. Thanks to the good care that I received in those days that I am now back to my healthy state.”
Dr. Prakash Kolnurkar, CEO, Siu Ka Pha Hospital, says that the aim of the hospital is to serve the local people at the grassroot level so that they do not need to visit any other healthcare centre for their medical needs. The hospital has the facility to conduct RT-PCR tests. Siu Ka Pha Hospital handled close to 853 Covid-19 cases during the peak time. Almost 240 Covid-19 patients were kept in the ICU. “Apart from the usual medications and procedures, we also worked on boosting the morale of the patients during the pandemic,” says Pronami Konwar, a nurse.
The hospital started off as a 20-bed medical unit to serve the people of the region. During the Covid-19 waves, ONGC Foundation immediately provided two inflatable units, each with a capacity of 20 beds and these helped in creating the much-needed isolation wards.
ONGC Foundation also supplied PPE kits, face masks, hand sanitisers to the doctors and other healthcare workers. In addition to this, it distributed ration kits to the needy who lived in the areas near the hospital.
To make this hospital an affordable medical hub, the OPD consultation charges are kept at a nominal Rs. 150. Equipped to handle any emergency at any hour, the hospital now houses a Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, can conduct microscopic and laparoscopic surgeries as well as oncology and ENT surgeries. There is a state-of-the-art Computerized Tomography Scanner, dialysis section and PSA Plant. Most medical insurance services can also be availed here. The hospital organizes regular check-up and dental camps both in the campus and nearby regions for the marginalized communities.
Covid-19 shattered livelihoods and homes. Industries came to a halt and people did not step of their home for long due to fear of contamination. MSMEs, artisans and daily wage earners could not earn their living. During the long span of the pandemic, people in remote regions were left out with little or no access to work.
Addressing this need for stable income and security, ONGC Foundation initiated two interventions to help the weaver communities across the country. In addition to imparting knowledge of new techniques and materials, the foundation is also helping in preserving the treasured handicrafts of India. It is working with different partners in tribal regions to keep the ancient indigenous crafts alive.
The handicraft industry has strong potential as the products can be exported and add to the GDP. A need assessment showed that these artisans needed skill and equipment upgradation. New designs and new products to match current lifestyle demands can give an impetus to the handicraft industry. So, ONGC Foundation rolled out special training for these weavers.
To give a boost to the ages-old traditional woollen weaving craft of the nomadic Bhotiya tribe, ONGC Foundation collaborated with Sewa International for capacity building of the women of the tribe. The aim is to create a new generation of women entrepreneurs, who can create jobs for others. They can also keep the art alive, and inspire the younger generation to take up this livelihood, instead of migrating to the cities for other work.
The training is based on three T’s—tools, training and technology. The weavers were given new iron looms, introduced to new designs, taught how to improve production, manufacture better and long-lasting products. They were provided aid in packaging and logistics operations along with creating market linkages for year-round income. Over 300 artisans have been trained at a cost of Rs 25.47 lakh.
With the latest tools, systematic weaving graphs and iron loom, the women are able to bring out good quality products, and thereby augment their income levels.
The potential of sale of the handwoven rugs is very high. As Uttarakhand is a popular tourist destination, the unique rugs can be sold in those markets for better income. The women are very pleased with the new looms and training. Sitting amid the pristine environs of her home in Parsari village, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, Manorama Rawat weaves beautiful rugs on her new iron loom. “We have learned the art from our ancestors but we needed to upskill. Now, we have learned the importance of weaving rugs that are suited to modern lifestyles. Traditionally, we used to weave through the winter, as we are homebound then. And we used wooden looms but they tend to bend during the winters, spoiling the square or rectangular shape of the rugs. With this new iron loom, the rugs don’t lose the shape. And we have also learned new designs,” she smiles.
An added benefit of this training has been community bonding. Savitri Devi Bisht wishes to become a master trainer, and likes coming to “the training centre to learn new techniques and spend time with friends”.
The green state of Assam boasts of many homes where the women spend their days weaving their own clothes. To turn this skill into sustainable livelihood and create a new generation of entrepreneurs, ONGC Foundation partnered with North East Development Forum (NEDF).
Under this programme, the artisans at the Ujjal Abahaan Handloom Cluster, Bhatiapar, Sivasagar district, have been upskilled to prepare better quality products.
The trainees are taught new technology in weaving, introduced to new designs, given information on marketing, branding and communication. They participate in exhibitions and are also exposed to publicity methodologies. Under this project, 20 looms including one traditional and seven Jacquards were procured. Till now, around 100 people have been trained at a cost Rs 26.83 lakh.
The popular products woven by the artisans are silk mekhla chadars, cotton gamchas, silk sarees, silk mufflers, silk gamchas, silk fabrics, stoles, table tops, runners, cushion covers, handbags, baskets, jewellery. The products have been showcased to buyers in Italian, French, Libyan and Greek markets.
The artisans are taught the use of different materials for different products. These include water hyacinth, cotton yarn of different ply, Muga silk, Eri silk, Tussar silk. For some products, synthetic materials are mixed while weaving for durability. Cane is used for bigger bags and baskets. Rahul Borah, Official Designer, Ujjal Abahaan Handloom Cluster, says, “The weavers are taught home products and women’s line. But now with the support, we can expand our portfolio to include men’s clothing.”
The trainees are seeing a change for the better with the new training. Rekha Moni Das was trained in weaving water hyacinth products. After a year of working at the cluster, she graduated to becoming a master trainer. Along with her trainees, she has formed a group to make more products. She is happy that she will be helped in the sale of her products, which will give her and her trainee group a good income source.
The weavers are issued an Artisan ID card by the Handloom Development Corporation, so that they can use the identity and facilities given by the Government of India. These registrations help the government to identify skilled artisans across the nation. Thus, giving them direct benefits including additional training and support, market linkage and access to special credit and insurance schemes.
ONGC Foundation sees its success in the many smiles it has brought on people’s faces. And the wheels of progress are always moving.
Please elaborate on the initiatives.
ONGC Foundation is driven to strengthen the relationship with the communities to help prioritize their needs by eliminating the vulnerabilities to its optimum. ONGC Foundation has always supported holistic upliftment. We work with the community to develop a project which will be useful for them. After the completion of the project, the community owns up. To enable optimum utilization of their potential, we focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy. For instance, under Project Saraswati, we drilled 10 wells along the Saraswati River belt in Haryana, as these are the lifeline for many farmers.
What are the major challenges you face in executing the projects?
Assuming you have defined what “success” of your project, and have planned your schedule, resources, and quality, your project then enters the Execution process phase. On a high-level, your challenges and problems during the execution phase will be manage people, communication, risk, quality, delivery and timeline in brief. The most prevalent and one of the most difficult things you can face during a project is people. However, we walk on our path of a collaborative approach and we see ourselves as a catalyst for bringing communities together.
Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, we built toilets in schools across pan India. But later, we realised that they were not being used. We realised that behavioural change is required for a successful impact. We feel happy working in remote locations such as Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam, and Odisha. Here, every effort is life changing.
What are the new projects in the pipeline?
The idea of creating larger impact in the time of actual need in the society has brought us to create new projects for the beneficiaries at large. We initiated Fellowship Programme in 2020-21, and immediately the lockdown was announced. Despite the fact that we couldn’t take it off in a planned manner, we still worked 14-15 hours a day. The team handled the crisis in an excellent manner. Near the completion, I asked the youngsters to develop projects which could be taken up post-Covid. The pandemic had raised an important issue: what problems did Covid-19 bring to light and how could we solve them? The ten fellows then designed 85 projects. Though the fellowship is over, we are working on some of these suggested projects. For instance, one is a handicraft project related to market linkages and accordingly we have developed a Fellowship on Strategic Intervention on Handicraft project
Also, we have constructed close to 7000 plus toilets in schools as part of Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyaan. Now we have been entrusted to survey the functionality and get the dysfunctional repaired. To achieve the task, we proposed a fellowship model in which the total of 215 fellows will be selected at regional and block levels to undertake the work of surveying, inculcating the positive behavioural changes in the people under WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) guidelines and getting the repair work done of identified dysfunctional toilets in the schools. The journey from just writing cheques to developing projects and working with implementing partners has been a wonderful experience. We are on our way to implement projects on a large scale. For instance, we are aiming to hold eye screening camps for 7.5 lakh school children across 75 locations. To provide free spectacles to the children with uncorrected refractive errors, provide necessary comprehensive eye care services including treatment for various eye ailments through eye hospitals and taking the opportunity to inculcate positive attitude through IEC. Also, DESKIT- portable desks make available to school children, these DESKITs will provide students with much needed infrastructural support. Using these DESKITs will not only provide children with a new bag, but will prevent health related problems like poor eyesight, bad posture, bad handwriting and poor concentration. We will distribute 75,000 pieces.
The idea of creating larger impact in the time of actual need in the society has brought us to create new projects for the beneficiaries at large “
CEO, ONGC Foundation
2… ONGC became the first PSU to set up 11 Pressure Swing Absorption Units in government hospitals across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka
3.. Addressing the need for stable income and security, ONGC Foundation initiated two interventions to help the weaver communities across the country