Bhubaneswar: Vedanta Aluminium Business has launched ‘People of Metal’, a series of six short films featuring ordinary people from local communities around the company’s operations, who have braved adversities to create extraordinary and inspiring stories. Through these videos, Vedanta Aluminium aims to celebrate those who worked hard to transform their own lives and those of many others, with support from the company.
Vedanta’s Aluminium smelting and power plant operations are located in remote regions of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The multiplier effect created through immense employment opportunities, social interventions, thriving residential clusters and local business communities around the plant operations, and creation of much-needed infrastructure, have catalysed significant development in these regions, bringing them to the socio-economic forefront.
The films feature Kirti Chandra Bohidar (ex-serviceman,who is now a successful fly-ash brick manufacturer), Puspanjali Seth (housewife-turned-entrepreneur, who also served as the former President of Subhalaxmi Co-operative), SimanchalKadraka (once an underprivileged tribal boy, who is now a national-level archer), Kavita and Arjun Naik (husband and wife on the brink of extreme penury who turned into successful farmers), Basanti Kisan (poor widow with three children to feed, who now runs a flourishing business) and ButraKansari (migrant construction labourer-turned-successful Dhokra artist).
Rahul Sharma, CEO, Aluminium Business says, “Vedanta strives to enable communities in, around and far beyond the areas where it operates, to become empowered and self-reliant participants in the economic progress of the country. We constantly endeavour to catalyse positive transformation in their lives through deep interventions in sustainable livelihood, education, healthcare and community infrastructure, with a special focus on women and child development. Our ‘People of Metal’ short film series captures the indomitable spirit of these six individuals, and Vedanta Aluminium is proud to have been an enabler in their journey.”
The stories of the six unsung heroes are mentioned below:
After 18 years in the armed forces,KirtiChandra Bohidarreturned to his village in Jharsuguda (Odisha) and looked for livelihood opportunities. While brick manufacturing seemed like a lucrative business, he felt the need to find a sustainable way of manufacturing bricks, one that was environment-friendly and didn’t affect the health of workers. Today, with the supply of fly-ash from and technical know-how provided by Vedanta Aluminium, he is a successful fly-ash brick manufacturer, converting an industrial by-product into green bricks for making construction more sustainable.
Puspanjali Sethhad faced innumerable hardships all her life, from working as a daily wage labourer to help her brother’s family, to seeing her husband struggle to make ends meet. One day, she and many other women in the region were approached by Vedanta Aluminium’s CSR team at Jharsuguda, for the creation of an all-women co-operative society that would work towards women’s skill development, financial literacy and enterprise development. From being one of the 10 founding members of Subhalaxmi Co-operative to leading the 4000-member strong co-operative as its former President, Puspanjalil ever aged the opportunity that came her way to turn her fates and that of thousands of others’. Today, she runs a thriving business in fabrication at Jharsuguda with her husband.
Nowa national-level archer of repute,SimanchalKadraka’s childhood was miserable. Hailing from Lanjigarh (Kalahandi, Odisha), abject poverty and the death of his father forced his family to seek help at Vedanta’s Child Care Centre. Like thousands of children, Simanchal was supported by Vedanta Aluminium through childhood, schooling, college, and employment. Today, he is the local archery coach for the young kids in the region, nursing a dream of clinching a medal for himself at the 2024 Olympics!
Husband and wife duo Kavita and Arjun Naik hail from a small village in Jharsuguda. After Arjun was forced to quit work due to an injury, the couple decided to till the only piece of land they had to make a livelihood out of it, but lack of water had made farming an impossibility. One day, they came across Vedanta’s Jeevika Samriddhi land & water management project for local farmers, and through it, dug a well and installed a solar pump. With knowledge of modern agricultural methods and access to better seeds and resources through Vedanta’s interventions, their land is now covered with lush crops and reaping them a healthy income.
Basanti Kisan’s tale is a shining example of transformation brought about by sheer determination and enterprising grit. A young widow with three kids, Basanti decided to fight it out and bring herself and her children out of poverty. Hearing about Vedanta’s Subhalaxmi Co-operative from women in her village, she joined the co-op and availed loans to set up a vegetable and grocery shop, which has grown multi-fold over the past few years. There was a time she did not know how to feed her children the next day, and today she does business worth INR 15,000/- everyday, on an average.
Poverty had forced Butra Kansarito become a migrant construction worker and give up on his dreams of pursuing the beautiful art form of Dhokra, the skills of which were passed down to him from his parents and grandparents. Discovering the village of Dhokra craftsmen like Butra, nestled in the forests of Kalahandi, Vedanta initiated a project to revive the 5000-year-old dying art form and in the process, give the artisans a thriving livelihood. Supported with raw materials, training in contemporary designs and market linkage, Butra, and others like him, have worked hard to build thriving livelihoods in Dhokra art.