A powerhouse of transformation
Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID) assists in mainstreaming marginalised communities through long-term interventions
India’s largest electric power transmission utility is well recognised for its CSR interventions. The Maharatna company is focused on initiatives that promote inclusive growth and address the basic needs of underprivileged and economically weaker sections of the society. Recently, the CPSE has been conferred with many reputed awards including ‘International CSR Awards-2022’ by The Green Organisation, London, UK. “POWERGRID sets a long-term strategy for Social & Economic Development of communities through initiatives in nearly all the goals set by the 17 UNSDG’s and other areas of national importance and adhere to sustainable environmental practices,” says Vinod Kumar Singh, Director (Personnel).
As the company operates in remote and far-flung rural areas spread across the country, it supports majority of the communities living in these areas. The major thrust areas for CSR initiatives are: Healthcare, Promoting Education, Rural Development, Skill Development, Ecology & Environment and Drinking Water & Sanitation.
Education is an essential parameter in raising people's living standards and overcoming other social ills. Because a child spends an average of six hours per day in school, the school environment is critical to their overall development.
POWERGRID is playing a major role in upgrading educational facilities for the benefit of children. It is also promoting the vision of a ‘Digital India’ by providing technology-based tools such as smartboards and setting-up audio-labs in schools to provide children with a more inclusive future, predominantly from backward communities.
The company has built classrooms, renovated buildings, and supplied a variety of school utility items such as desks and benches, sanitary napkin vending machines, sanitary napkin incinerators, sanitary napkins, black boards, library tables, library chairs, water filter cum cooler, roofing sheets for cycle sheds, steel book cases, and more.
With the assistance of POWERGRID, the schools in Punjab have seen significant improvements. Under the CSR initiative taken-up in 2019, sanitation and hygiene of young school-going girls was prioritized. For Menstrual Hygiene Management, 282 sanitary napkin vending machines along with equal number of incinerators were installed in 217 government middle, high and senior secondary schools of Punjab.
"With POWERGRID's assistance, Ferozepur is the first and only district in Punjab state to achieve 100% coverage of a sanitary napkin vending machine and incinerator," says Sukhwinder Singh, Deputy District Education Officer Elementary, Ferozepur.
Following a need assessment study, the programme was launched in rural areas and remote villages where sanitary pads are scarce. Sanitary pads cost between Rs. 10 and Rs. 25 per pad, making them out of reach for the majority of women, forcing them to rely on outdated, unconventional, unsanitary, and uncomfortable methods. The initiative is directly related to the health of young schoolgirls and the working hours provided by women.
This emphasis on adolescent hygiene has resulted in higher attendance and ease of participation in sports. Amarjeet, studying in class XII, Government Girls Senior Secondary Smart School, Ferozepur is a mother of two young girls, she says, “We used to take leave during menstrual days, but now, we can buy a sanitary pad for a nominal price of Rs. 2 at the school. Also, using napkin is also more hygienic as compared to a cloth.” Over 22,000 girls have benefited from the distribution of sanitary napkins.
POWERGRID has also funded the initial supply of 13,62,060 sanitary pads for a period of one year at a rate of five pads per girl per month in order to promote and enable the project's sustainability. To make this more sustainable, POWERGRID has also financed the Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) charges for two years beyond the warranty period of one year.
POWERGRID understands the value of a good learning environment. With 70% of Indians living in rural areas, access to quality education in good schools remains limited. Infrastructure is equally important, as improper seating can cause muscle pain, neck strain and lower back strain. Poor posture can also cause long-term problems, such as abnormal bone growth, which can be difficult to correct over time, resulting in a lack of concentration and learning difficulties in the long run.
At the Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Moga, the wings were renovated, 16 double-storey classrooms and a library building were built.
In the Government High School at Singhawala, Moga, eight toilets, eight classrooms, borewell were constructed. Furniture was also provided to this school. Technology-enabled education
POWERGRID empowers children to thrive in the digital world through education. The infrastructure at the Government Girls Senior Secondary Smart School, Ferozepur, the region’s oldest school, dating back to year 1925, has been given a facelift. Here, new audio labs have been installed. Amanpreet is an English teacher here, “Listening is an empowering experience; it improves the vocabulary and pronunciation” she says, adding that the students enjoy this digital method of learning. Nandini of class X says, “Learning digitally has improved our pronunciation and grasp of English grammar, which was previously a struggle.”
POWERGRID also installed two smart classrooms at Government Senior Secondary School, Moga. Smart Classes
ICT has evolved from a communication and information technology to a curriculum creation and delivery system for teachers and students. Smart classes are a modernized method of education in Indian education scenario that helps students improve their concept formation, concept elaboration, reading skills, and academic achievement.
POWERGRID has introduced smart classrooms to aid in the implementation of the concept. In Haryana, POWERGRID has installed 330 smart classrooms with a budget of Rs. 7.8 crore benefiting education in 160 schools.
A smart classroom is a 'technology-enabled' room in which digital boards replace traditional chalk and duster. This board is an integrated solution that includes a frame, an interactive flat panel display, a cabinet with a computer, a multimedia controller, a visual presenter, audio, a backup power supply, and preloaded teaching content (optional). This solution equips a teacher with modern pedagogical methods to convert a classroom into a blended teaching and learning environment, where he/she can teach traditionally with whiteboard and a marker and add digital features by using Interactive Flat Panel Display.
Smart classroom encourages an interactive learning environment. It also enables teachers to explain and students to understand difficult or abstract topics/concepts and chapters through visualisation, thereby incorporating the “Cognitive Learning Process”.
Teachers and students are overjoyed that POWERGRID has introduced technology-based modern education into their classrooms. Deepak Antil, the officiating Principal of Government Model Sanskriti Senior Secondary School, Sonipat, refers to smart boards as ‘magic board’. “With smart boards that also have power backup, POWERGRID has brought digital education to remote areas. Attendance in classes with a smart board has increased. This digital board is more appealing to students than a traditional white board.”
Meenakshi, who teaches Mathematics at Government Girls Senior Secondary School (GGSSS) in Sonipat, spoke with us about the benefits of smart classrooms. She says, “We can load the lessons and notes on the smart board; the lessons can be saved for future reference. Even if we are not physically present, the students can access the lessons. This way, we won’t fall behind schedule in completing the syllabus. Additionally, the teachers are no longer exposed to hazardous chalk dust.”
Shalu is a student of class XII at GGSSS, Murthal Adda Sonipat. She says, “The smart board has well-defined visuals that allows us to understand any lesson easily. It is quite similar to a computer screen and very easy to use. This Wi-Fi-enabled device is available for use of all my classmates.”
Developing a competent healthcare infrastructure is crucial for the well-being of the population. With this aim, POWERGRID has launched many initiatives to make healthcare accessible to all the people living in far-flung areas.
Infrastructure & Equipment
The Civil Hospital in Moga serves nearly 1,000 patients per day. With such a high volume of patients, the hospital required improved infrastructure. POWERGRID supported the hospital by providing a cardiac monitor, portable X-ray machine, beds, mattresses, trolleys, stretchers, 150 functional beds, oxygen cylinders, and an oxygen plant to the hospital. An ambulance was also provided to the hospital. “We've seen a 10-20% improvement in patient care with this equipment. The ambulance has helped in ease for specimen sampling, vaccination drives in neighbouring areas etc.” says Dr Sukhpreet Brar, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Civil Hospital, Moga.
In addition, three ambulances have been provided to the Civil Hospital, Ferozepur, and two primary healthcare centres are being built at a cost of Rs 3.83 crore. POWERGRID responded immediately to the pandemic by providing COVID kits worth Rs 5 lakh, and distributing dry rations to the needy.
Vishram Sadan Patna
Better health is essential for happiness and well-being. Vishram Sadan was conceptualized by POWERGRID management for mitigating hardships faced by poor patients and their attendants. In most government hospitals, waiting rooms are overflowing with people. There is a severe shortage of night shelters for patients and their families. The problem is more prevalent among people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
POWERGRID has established Vishram Sadans at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna, and King George's Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow.
In November 2019, the Vishram Sadan in Patna was handed over to the management of IGIMS. The 5-floor building consists of Reception, Dining Hall, Cafeteria, Kitchen, Common Room. The 256-bedded Vishram Sadan has dormitories and double-bedded rooms, priced at Rs 50 and Rs 350 respectively. All rooms are equipped with balcony, mattress and furniture. A lunch thali costs Rs. 35. The Vishram Sadan is equipped with a generator, has two lifts and a separate housekeeping staff and the facility is sanitised on a regular basis.
The Vishram Sadan is managed by a Lucknow-based trust “BhauRao Devras Sevanyas”. IGIMS receives a large number of patients, from Bihar and other states, as well as neighbouring Nepal. The majority of the impacted beneficiaries utilizing the services come from economically weaker sections of the society.
Eating a healthy lunch at the Vishram Sadan canteen, Shiv Shankar Rawat reveals that he has travelled from Janakpur in Nepal. He came to IGIMS, Patna, with a relative who was suffering from multiple organ failures that could not be treated in Nepal. He is grateful to be staying at the clean and affordable Vishram Sadan because the treatment will be lengthy.
Six more Vishram Sadans are under various stages of construction across the country.
POWERGRID is playing a vital role in promoting communal harmony, strengthening national integration and fostering unity in diversity through reaching out to the children, who have lost their parents or primary breadwinners as a result of communal, caste, ethnic or terrorist violence. POWERGRID has partnered with the National Foundation for Communal Harmony on the project 'Assist' to provide this assistance to children. The project provides financial assistance for the education of children who have been affected by violence.
NFCH is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It provides education assistance to children who have become orphans or destitute as a result of the death or permanent incapacity of either both parents or the primary breadwinner in the family as a result of communal, caste, ethnic, or terrorist violence. “In any violent incident, women and children suffer the most. This organization was set up in 1992 with the goal of ensuring that children affected by violence have the opportunity to continue their education and overcome the trauma”, explains Manoj Pant, Secretary, National Foundation for Communal Harmony.
POWERGRID has been supporting this programme since 2014-15, assisting 1,632 children from Assam, Manipur, and Chhattisgarh. The majority of children are enrolled up to Class XII, as well as in Graduation/Post Graduation and Professional courses.
“This is a ‘rehabilitation-cum-education scheme’. We provide assistance even if the child is under the age of five. We provide education for children from pre-primary to professional levels, up to the age of 25. Even if a family has three or four children, each one receives separate assistance," Pant explains. Furthermore, NFCH has a partnership with Bengaluru's Art of Living Foundation for their mental health.
The field teams are in contact with state governments, authorities, and police departments, as well as other network partners, in order to identify the affected children. All documents are scrutinised, including post-mortem reports, the deceased's non-involvement in any violent act, and an income certificate, as the family seeking assistance must earn less than Rs 2 lakh per year. The funds are transferred digitally into bank accounts that have been verified and linked to the Aadhaar card.
Talking about the programme, Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, Director General of Police, Assam, says, “During my posting as the Superintendent of Police, Guwahati City, we came across a lot of violence related to insurgency incidents in Assam. Seeing the plight of the people, we wrote an approach paper to the then DGP Harekrishna Deka. In order to help the children, the police department started Project ASWAS in 2001. NFCH stepped forward to assist Project ASWAS through their ‘Assist’ programme. We identified and helped the children who had lost the breadwinner of the family to communal, ethnic or extremist related violence.”
The Assam police department also trained approximately 1,500 personnel at the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development to sensitise them to the needs of these violence-affected children. The trained personnel assisted the people with documentation and maintained contact with the local educational institutions to monitor the beneficiaries' studies.
With POWERGRID's assistance, the children now have a better life. Debasish Saha from Nalbari, Assam, lost his father in a terrorist attack in September 2001 near his hometown. “First, my sister received educational assistance, and then I received it in 2008. After graduation, I plan to enrol in a stenography diploma programme in order to work for the government.”
A similar story is told by another youth. Janardan Borah lives in Guwahati, Assam, and is working with BYJU's. He is preparing for a government job. However, the journey to this career was not easy. “My father went missing during the extremist violence of 1997 in Nagaon. I was in the class III then. I was fortunate to have received financial support and I was helped till I completed my MBA degree.”
With a policy that is committed to inclusive growth, POWERGRID is bringing hope and joy in the lives of all the people.
What is the focus area of POWERGRID’s CSR interventions?
POWERGRID aims to strengthen the public health care facilities and make healthcare available, affordable and accessible for marginalized and underprivileged sections of society.
Vishram Sadan is a remarkable initiative conceived by POWERGRID management to alleviate the problems experienced by underprivileged patients and their attendants. POWERGRID has also prioritized the development of cancer care facilities because many cancers can be cured if detected early and treated effectively.
The project ‘Improving Rural Livelihoods through Integrated Watershed Management’ was launched by POWERGRID in collaboration with ICRISAT (International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics). The project is currently underway in five villages of Odisha's Kalahandi District and completed in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh and Vijayapura, Karnataka.
The project has received various accolades in National and International forum, including National CSR Award from the Hon’ble President of India in 2018.
Please share with us some programmes that have changed lives and brought smiles.
POWERGRID is committed to making a difference through CSR activities, with a particular emphasis on rural development efforts. Kalahandi District in Odisha, India, has suffered from repeated droughts and famines for several decades, causing great hardships to the local farmers. Watershed management techniques are helping 8,500 farmers in 10 villages boost farm yields by increasing water availability, enhancing soil fertility and providing improved crop varieties.
Children are the future of our nation. POWERGRID, as a global technology leader, recognizes the importance of providing quality education to children, which is why over 1,000 smart-classes have been established across the country.
As India moves progressively towards becoming a global knowledge economy, it must meet the rising aspirations of its youth. POWERGRID strives to give fresh impetus to the skill development initiatives and help create an appropriate ecosystem that facilitates imparting employable skills to its young workforce.
POWERGRID believes that skill development cannot be viewed in isolation. Therefore, partnering with institutes engaged in imparting job-oriented skill development training aligning with the industry requirements and offering them employment opportunities is the best approach. POWERGRID has partnered with reputed institutes such as NSDC, CIPET, IGIAT etc. for providing employment opportunities to skilled manpower.
What are POWERGRID’s future plans?
Outbreaks such as COVID-19 have necessitated improving healthcare institutions with the adequate infrastructure at Government Hospitals all over the country.
POWERGRID has recently taken-up project for providing Ring Gantry Linear Accelerator for Radiotherapy Treatment at Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala with an approved estimate of Rs 20 cr.
Additionally, POWERGRID shall commence construction of 100 bedded District Hospital at Serchhip District in Mizoram with an approved estimate of Rs 21 cr. The project will benefit 96.85% Scheduled Tribe (ST) population of Serchhip, Mizoram.
“POWERGRID is committed to making a difference through CSR activities“
Vinod Kumar Singh
Director (Personnel), POWERGRID
2.. Infrastructure is important, This often leads to lack of concentration and learning issues. POWERGRID understands the value of a good environment in schools
3.. Smart classrooms encourage an interactive learning environment. They also allow teachers to explain difficult or abstract topics easily
4.. Vishram Sadan was conceptualized by POWERGRID for mitigating hardships faced by people from economically weaker sections of society