Partnerships and community engagement are key pegs of our sustainability strategy. They help us identify sustainability priorities, provide direction to our efforts and impart a greater degree of sustainability to our programmes. Networking and forging alliances facilitate innovation and speedy programme implementation.
Community inclusiveness is an ongoing and systematic exercise for us and not a one-off activity with a start and end point. Our commitment to human rights and promotion of local heritage is well ingrained in our community consultation process. Consistent, open dialogue through various platforms, and building and nurturing relationships with communities near our operations so that we can understand their concerns and recommendations, is an important aspect of the role played by our teams on the ground. Given the diversity within India, utmost care is taken to respect and adhere to the cultures and traditions of each community we work with. Purpose-based engagement with concentrated efforts towards mutuality, maturity, transparency, problem-solving and consistency are the values that define our community engagement approach.
We adopt a structured process of engagement that uses a three-pronged approach – keeping stakeholders informed, engaging with them and forging partnerships to address needs and concerns.
Various platforms are used to keep the engagement meaningful and transparent with the communities. Village meetings are a calendared feature and are collective platforms for mutual decision-making. The proceedings of every village meeting are recorded.
In the next interface or engagement with the community the minutes are reviewed and all resolved issues are closed before the new agenda is discussed. These meetings conducted in the villages are chaired by the village council and see active participation of the entire community. These formal meetings are extensively supported by other less formal modes of communication, including during health camps, awareness drives, cultural festivities, tournaments, parent/teacher meetings, SHG meetings, training programmes, markets and other social gatherings. The community also visits us regularly at the company offices if need be. Critical issues are brought to management attention and are also reviewed in the Unit and Vedanta HSEC committees.
Community Issue Resolution Mechanism
As well as having a dedicated team of in-house social development professionals, we also partner with subject specialist agencies such as the concerned government agencies, universities, research institutes, industry bodies, consultants and more to drive special initiatives on community health, education, livelihood and other subjects.
Our partnerships with communities, government and civil society (that we term the Public-Private-People-Partnership [4P] model) are fundamental to our work with communities.
Government: we have successfully assisted government in enhancing both their outreach and quality of services, adding value in the education, health, water and sanitation, infrastructure and agriculture sectors.
Civil society: our partnerships with NGOs, research institutions and other organisations have enabled us not only to build upon and deepen existing community development initiatives, but also to bring the highest quality of expertise and skill in community development into our project areas. We have a set of guidelines for selecting our civil society partners.
We have partnered with more than 100 NGOs and government departments.
People: our people are a key driver in our approach towards community development. At each business unit, our socially responsible investments in education, health and livelihood are being managed by dedicated teams of 77 full-time employees and 342 volunteers.
Performance: through our programmes, we reach out to more than 2.7 million people in 552 villages across India and Zambia.
Ongoing interaction with our partners helps us better understand the partnering process, look at new opportunities and scale our programmes both in their scope and their reach. In line with our stakeholder engagement initiatives, we invited 23 of our NGO partners to interact with our Chairman and senior management, reiterating our commitment to communities. The key action points from this engagement focused on how to further strengthen the partnership and how to innovate for solutions in an integrated and sustainable manner.
'Our association with Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO) has brought a perceptible change in the area of natural resource management, harnessing an untapped potential befitting of the area',