BirlaSoft’s efforts to reduce harmful effects of paddy burning

India’s agri-driven states, especially which produce wheat have recently come under flak for the open burning of husk which produces harmful smoke that causes pollution. These pollutants contain deadly gases like Methane, Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile organic compound (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Clouds of ash and smoke have potential to travel more than thousand kilometers and create obstinate and non-clearing clouds. Smog thus formed can increase the levels of pollutants making the air difficult to breathe. Once released in the atmosphere, these pollutants disperse in the surroundings, undergoing physical and chemical transformation and eventually impacting human, animal and plant health. There is sufficient evidence to point towards the frequent burning of husk contributing to the formation of brown clouds that affect local air quality, atmospheric visibility and earth climate.

To address growing concerns around this environmental hazard with large scale implications on air quality and health, SEED CSR in partnership with Birlasoft, started the project “Shodhan” in 2017-18 in Agethi and Bibipur villages (Patiala Region) of Punjab. The project undertook the task of lowering the harmful effects caused by paddy burning, by introducing new techniques for wiping off crop residues without leaving anything harmful behind, which could destroy the environment. These new techniques encompass technologies of Combine Harvester (for rice crop harvesting), Happy Seeder, ROTA seeder, Rota Wetter, Cultivator, Bailer, Mulcher and Harrow, amongst others, along with traditional methods for straw management.

The project field team vigorously mobilised and convinced farmers in Punjab to use these modern techniques, instead of undertaking the traditional stubble burning activity. Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) was brought in as project advisors. They contributed by bringing in knowledge and technical input with respect to ways in which adverse effects of paddy burning could be reduced by following progressive farming methods and techniques. With awareness generation and behavior change activities farmers understood the key messages and began to adopt some of the methods. An impact assessment will be carried out in a few months to measure improvement. Meanwhile local communities are keen to see what else BirlaSoft and SEED CSR will propose as innovative interventions in the future.

Endo Pharma adopts holistic approach towards health care

With a view to provide a well rounded and comprehensive health intervention, Endo Pharmaceuticals collaborated with SEED CSR to initiate a health plan aimed at improving the critical development issues faced by the marginalised groups living in the villages in Kelambakkam, Alathur, Mambakkam in and around Chennai.

The project not only aligns core CSR objective of the company but also aligns itself with locally relevant equitable, inclusive and sustainable growth. As part of the project specialised health camps are being held regularly through Mobile Health Units. These mobile units identify contributing factors and use the findings to strategise interventions. Living in resource constrained settings, communities battle serious issues related to poverty, lack of sanitation, low awareness on hygiene, poor levels of nutrition and challenges with access to health services. As part of the health interventions under Endo Pharma’s CSR, the health camps are addressing the above issues in addition to holding specialised camps and sessions on themes like financial literacy, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition.

NAME: Priyanka Bairagi

Miss Priyanka Bairagi had studied 12th in Arts and perusing MA in sociology. She is from small village of Jhalawar district, Rajasthan where women are not allowed to go outside the home. She having no one to guide her about future, she started working in Aajivika program at Jhalawar. She joined backhoe loader operators training and after that she is giving 2hrs for extra time for additional practice and playing key role in mobilisation with SEED for the project.

While mobilizing about the course within the pear group, she felt that this course can be beneficial for others as well. It can help to provide equal gender participation in this industry and not only creating opportunities but would also enable to plan for a more economically sound future for all.

As the course is being imparted free of cost, she joined the course and continued to attend classes along with her job. At the Centre of Excellence, she got to know about better avenues and understood that she could have earned much more salary and could have been in a more respectable job if she had continued her studies for few more years in the right direction. Being inspired by the course and having received direction, Priyanka decided to carry out her studies further.

According to Priyanka, “I was not able to drive two-wheeler before but now I can drive any vehicle with safety and confidence. Thanks to the CoE, I am thinking positively about the future and now I have a clear planning of It my life. I will explore more options to study further in same direction and then I will work as an officer in one of the best company. I feel proud to be a first women India who drives Backhoe loader,” she added.