Lafarge Surma Cement strongly believes that business is a priority, but social welfare is a responsibility. Thus, the Company has undertaken wide ranging CSR activities around its plant at Chhatak and its quarry in Meghalaya. Whether it is through responsible business operations and environmental management or through community development initiatives in the area of education, healthcare, employment and infrastructure development, Lafarge Surma Cement is committed to ensure sustainable development of the economy, community and environment.
The Company’s Community Development Center (CDC), located beside its plant, is the hub of all its community development activities. It is home to a primary school, where children can receive free education up to class five; a medical centre, where people can receive free medical services and medicines; and also a training center, where both men and women are provided skill development trainings for employment and income generation. Five “Lafarge Surma Sub-Centers” located in remote villages have also been setup to serve the people who cannot access the benefit of the CDC. Through these centers, the company provides its community development services to more than 26,000 people.
One of the focus areas of the Company’s CSR initiatives is Healthcare. The medical centre located in CDC has a qualified physician and a nurse to provide free medical assistance to the local community. They now have access to primary health-care that includes consultation, medicinal support, vaccination and capacity building though health counseling. A full-time paramedic is also based in the five “Lafarge Surma Sub-Centers” taking health-care to the doorsteps of villagers residing in remote locations. More than 82,000 free health services and counseling sessions and 9,800 vaccinations have been provided from the medical centre located in CDC and more than 11,200 free health services and counseling sessions and 1,460 vaccinations have been provided from the 5 sub-centers till date.
To support the community from a health and hygiene perspective and ensure access to safe drinking water, Lafarge Surma Cement has also installed 200 sanitary latrines, 29 tube-wells and 125 arsenic removal filters in Chhatak.
Earlier children of the local communities in Chhatak never went to any school as there was no schooling facility nearby and the guardians lacked motivation to educate their children. After going door to door to explain the benefits of education to the parents and inspiring the students to attend the school, Lafarge Surma Cement was able to change the situation dramatically. The Company also established a primary school in its community development centre – “LSC Community Welfare School” for providing free education up to class five. A library has also been setup at the school complex where school children now get the opportunity to read different kinds of books required for general knowledge development. The standard of education in LSC Community Welfare School is highly appreciated by the community and has set a benchmark for all. A total of 1,618 students have benefitted from the Company’s schooling program till date.
Another 447 students also received free education from the 5 ‘Lafarge Surma sub centers’ established in the remote locations of Chhatak. These sub centers serve as coaching centers and has a full time teacher present in each location. As part of developing the lives of the entire community, the Company also provided education to 110 adults to meet the needs of their daily lives. Lafarge Surma Cement also provides scholarships to 50 students every year to help them continue their high school education
Creating employment opportunities for the locals by providing free skill development training has always been one of the key focus areas of the company’s CSR activities. This has also been identified as one of the major ambitions of Lafarge group under its ‘Sustainable Ambitions 2020”.
Lafarge Surma Cement provides Small Enterprise Development training in tailoring, embroidery, candle making and the necessary start-up capital to the women of the community as part of the company’s effort to drive women empowerment. Once living as dependent housewives, women in the project affected community at Chhatak now have sufficient opportunities for empowerment through these income generating activities. Through an NGO, the company has also created market linkages for these women with key sellers in affluent towns, thus ensuring a ready and good market for their products. More than 300 women have benefitted from this program till date
After conducting a study on local employment opportunities, the Company also introduced training on solar panel installation and mobile servicing along with the necessary startup capital for the youths of the local communities. This has opened up new employment opportunities for them, with most of them gaining employment in local NGO’s working on solar panel installation or opening up their own mobile servicing shops
As part of the Company’s objective of ensuring economic development of the communities, the Company also actively provides business opportunities to the cooperatives formed by the local communities, to help generate income for the cooperatives and its members.
Lafarge Surma Cement also takes pride in lending a hand in community infrastructure development activities. The Company regularly donates cement and provides technical assistance for developing local infrastructures and institutions and constructing educational institutions, places of worship, important public places etc. This has resulted in a dramatic improvement in the local infrastructure and economic condition of the locality. Multiple employment opportunities have opened up for the locals, businesses and shops have sprouted in locations surrounding the plant, road communication has been established with distant rural areas and establishments have been setup with cement donated by the Company. Such facilities were a dream to them only a decade ago and with the help of Lafarge Surma Cement, this dream has now become a reality.
Apart from all these, the Company has always tried to be at the forefront in responding to the needs of the disadvantaged people in and around its operations at the trying times. The Company has, on number of occasions, undertaken initiatives to distribute blankets during winter, food items during eid holidays, relief packages during floods, etc. The Company also participates in organizing various community activities such as science fair, traditional mela, art competition for school children, traditional folk dance and music
In 2013, Lafarge Surma Cement’s community development program won the “Lafarge Awards”, one of the most prestigious awards given by Lafarge group annually for the best initiatives undertaken by the business units of Lafarge. The Company won the award under the ‘Sustainable Development’ category as the ‘Best initiative to contribute to the long-term development of local communities’, by competing and winning against submissions made by 50 countries.
As Bangladesh expands its industrial base and population rises, waste management solutions has become a dire need for this country as huge amounts of waste are being generated every day. Under the tenets of industrial ecology and as part of providing a solution to this problem, Lafarge Surma Cement has developed waste co-processing facilities at its plant in Chhatak, providing safe and environmental friendly waste disposal services to industries that generate huge amounts of waste. Wastes collected from these industries are incinerated in its kiln, which leaves no harmful residue, not even ash. This also contributes to the usage of alternate fuels by the Company, thus helping conserve natural resources. The Company has already provided co-processing services to some of Bangladesh’s leading oil and gas pharmaceutical, food and consumer goods companies. Lafarge Surma Cement strictly implements the Lafarge Group standards of waste in alignment with international standards. This prohibits the use of materials that pose either health or environmental risks or would compromise on cement quality.
LUMPL, the Indian subsidiary of LSC, has also undertaken wide ranging community development activities in the field of healthcare, education, infrastructure development, water supply scheme and development of livelihood in the villages surrounding the mining site in Meghalaya especially at the villages of Nongtrai and Shella.
Free consultation and medicines along with necessary diagnostic services are provided to the villages in and around Shella and Nongtrai Durbars throughout the week, with the help of a mobile clinic van, manned by a registered medical practitioner and health assistants. LUMPL organized several health camps where free pathological tests, dental and vision screening tests, distribution of spectacles free of costs and free cataract operations were conducted.
The Company provides annual scholarships to local bright and needy students, assistance for enhancement of school teachers’ salary, support to the local schools infrastructure and academic gadgets to the students. This full sponsorship of Nongtrai Secondary School has been undertaken to ensure financially challenged students are retained in the education system since there are no high schools yet in the village. Exceptional students meeting the criteria are also sponsored for higher technical education outside the State of Meghalaya.
LUMPL has also set up sericulture and weaving projects for women where stipends are provided and handlooms are set up through Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the Government. Furthermore, through the Entrepreneur Development Program and SHG training program young men are provided training in livestock management along with seed money to set up units. The trainees are further assisted to set up Self Help Groups with an aim to make them self-sustaining through a 5 year capacity building program called the Indigenous People Development Program.
To develop infrastructure, the Company has undertaken a wide range of activities, such as ensuring water supply, improving the source of water, construction of village footpaths, hand rails, public toilets, and provision of electricity and preparation of football grounds to enhance the development of the villages surrounding the mining site in Meghalaya, especially the villages of Nongtrai and Sheila.