Report by OD bureau; Bhubaneswar: Concerted efforts by Tata Steel through its CSR arm Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS) has helped in the formation of more than 200 Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the State. This, in turn, has provided sustainable livelihood opportunities to more than 3,000 rural households. More than 90 per cent of these SHGs are run exclusively by women, thereby providing a significant fillip to womenís empowerment in the State.
Over the years, the steel major has taken proactive measures to bring people in the rural areas together to form SHGs with a view to securing alternative and sustainable livelihood opportunities. Since empowerment can be ensured only with a better quality of life, income and happiness, the SHG initiative taken up by Tata Steel is aimed at ensuring economic prosperity for a large number of families in the State.
The locations where Tata Steel is actively facilitating formation of SHGs include Kalinganagar, Bamnipal, Sukinda, Joda, Belpahar and Gopalpur, among others.
These SHGs are currently engaged in income generating activities such as poultry farming, gardening, stone carving and saura painting. Some of them have also set up small-scale units for making phenyl and pickles. Besides facilitating credit linkages for these SHGs, TSRDS also assists them in marketing their products. This has enabled them to not only sell their products in the local market but also access markets outside.
Empowerment of the women members of SHGs has led to their having a greater says in decision making within the family. Their contribution to the family income has gone up, development of leadership qualities has been facilitated and their participation in the capacity building process has intensified.
The Tejaswinis, or women SHG members of Kalingnagar area, have been able to find a large number of buyers for products made by them. They are selling Soura paintings in the melas organised by ORMAS and other local markets in Jajpur district. Tata Steel has facilitated the formation of 60 SHGs in the area. Soura paintings made by a SHG there have been added to the list of corporate gifts of Tata Steel.
In Sukinda, where the Company has promoted 20 SHGs, various income generating activities have been taken up. In Bichakundi (Joda), two SHGs have set up Nursery. They are raising more than one lakh saplings every year, earning in the process a profit of Rs 4-5 lakh annually. Tata Steel directly purchases saplings from them for its Wasteland Development Programme. Other activities undertaken by these SHGs include leaf-plate making, mushroom cultivation, fishery, goat breeding, brick making and manufacturing of papad and pickle.
In Gopalpur, the Company has facilitated the formation of 27 SHGs. One of them, Maa Shaktimayee SHG of new Badapur, is managing Sradha Ashraya (an Old Age Home) at the rehabilitation colony. The SHG earns Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000 per month in doing so. In Bamnipal, TSDRS is presently working with 18 SHGs. Some of them are into goat rearing and mushroom cultivation.