As part of the 30 day training program, all these women also visited Bolangir and Bhawanipatna - nearby towns – in order to interact with various traders and leaf plate – makers as well as to gain knowledge of the business.
In order to promote livelihood of tribal women, the Company has launched ‘Project Jeebika’ in eight villages in the slope of the Niyamgiri Hill. About 50 Joint Livelihood Groups (JLG), comprising 300 enterprising women have been formed under this project. “Dongria Kondh Community is the focus of the project,” according to Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, Vedanta Aluminium Limited, Lanjigarh. The project will also provide ‘door step’ marketing of the mass production of leaf-plates by the women. Each of the JLGs will also be given two sewing machines in order to stitch the leaf-plate for better price.
“Locally available Sal or Siali leaf, trained human resources and marketing support by Vedanta will ensure sustainability of the project as well as give a sustainable livelihood support to the tribal community”, adds Dr. Mukesh Kumar. The tribal women are also highly optimistic about their new found livelihood option after the training. “We may need not to go to wage work once this leaf-plate business starts”, says Anda Majhi, a Dongria Kondh woman from Khemdipadar. “Unlike before, we can earn more than Rs. 100/- per day sitting at home by making machine stitched leaf-plates”, says Radha Majhi of Balabhadrapur Village.
People from other neighboring area have also shown their interest for such training and intervention in their respective village. According to Dr. Mukesh Kumar, “Other villages will also be included in the project very soon. We are planning to making a hub for leaf-plates in Lanjigarh by making a federation of these enterprising women groups around Niyamgiri and replicating the success”.
Vedanta Aluminium has engaged SHAKTI Organisation, a local NGO to execute the “Project Jeebika” as an implementing partner. The villages covered in the project are Tadijhola, Hadaguda, Phuldumer, Khemdipadar, Trilochanpur, Kadamguda, Balabhadrapur and Semilibhatta under Lanjigarh Block of Kalahandi, Orissa (India).
The Alumina Refinery Unit of Vedanta has also successfully implemented several livelihood promotion programs, in order to provide better income and living for the tribal people in Lanjigarh. One of the most successful programs is Shashya Shilpa Abhiyan, in which the company provides support for vegetable cultivation by the tribals.