Depression Eats Into Lakshmi’s Social Budget

Updated: May 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
South Rajasthan. This is where most of the leading cement manufacturing companies of India have set up their plants. But the villages in this part of the country, which are mostly tribal inhabited, still remained remotely developed till a few years ago, when some corporates began adopting them and providing the villagers with public infra- structure facilities such as education, drinking water and roads.

Lakshmi Cement, a division of JK Corp. Ltd, is one of these corporates. Located at Jaykaypuram in Sirohi district, Lakshmi Cement adopted three neighbouring villages, Aadarsh, Rampura and Dhungree, six years ago.

“This part of the country is highly drought prone and so are these three villages,” says S R Pandey, general manager, Lakshmi Cement, “and scarcity of drinking water is a perennial problem here. Even we at times find it difficult to get a regular supply of drinking water at our plants.”

Providing for safe drinking water has been Lakshmi Cement’s priority initiative towards the development of its adopted villages. “At the beginning of every financial year, we plan and allocate a budget for carrying out social works,” explains Mr Pandey.

However, the yearly budget, which used to be around Rs 7-8 lakh, has seen a downward revision since last year. “Since last year, forced by the economic slowdown, we have slightly reduced our budget allocation for these three villages,” says Mr Pandey. The company, which used to provide the funds for 8-10 hand pumps each year in these villages with a total population of around 15,000 (including Jaykaypuram), has now cut down the sum to five hand pumps from last year.

Lakshmi Cement also provides assistance, in terms of both men and money, for constructing roads, school buildings and digging tanks, etc. “When it comes to assisting village development works with resources other than money, we do provide our own workers to do the job,” says Mr Pandey. He adds that the company doesn’t do these works in collaboration with any non-government organisation like most other companies. “During drought situations, we also arrange for fodder transportation from other parts of the country to these villages and provide our manpower for unloading it.”

Organising multipurpose medical camps for the villagers is another routine job undertaken by Lakshmi Cement. This is another area, where, according to Mr Pandey, the company has decided to peg its social allocation fund at a lower level than last year (Rs 4-5 lakh).