Mumbai: Vedanta Aluminium & Power Business, India’s largest producer of the aluminium and its value-added products, is fostering hundreds of MSMEs in remote rural areas with its innovative ‘Waste to Wealth’ programmes. Waste to Wealth projects form a key pillar of Vedanta’s sustainability agenda that is centred around ‘Zero Harm, Zero Waste and Zero Discharge’. With a world-class alumina refinery at Lanjigarh (Odisha) and state-of-the-art aluminium smelters at Jharsuguda (Odisha) and Korba (Chhattisgarh), the company has been instrumental in triggering socio-economic development in some of the country’s aspirational districts.
One such innovative programme being run by Vedanta for fostering local micro-enterprises is fly-ash brick making. The company supports over a hundred brick manufacturing MSMEs situated around and beyond its areas of operations with fly ash free of cost to their doorsteps, amounting to nearly 5 lakh metric tonnes per annum. In addition, the company also provides know-how and training on manufacturing these bricks in partnership with technical institutes, thus creating employment avenues as well as promoting circular economy. The beneficiaries from this project are underprivileged villagers who would otherwise depend on cattle rearing, subsistence agriculture or would migrate to other states to work as construction labourers for their livelihood. At Lanjigarh (Kalahandi district, Odisha), more than 90 per cent of fly ash generated at the company’s alumina refinery is used by local entrepreneurs in their brick manufacturing units.
Rahul Sharma, Dy CEO – Aluminium Business, Vedanta Ltd said, “At Vedanta, we integrate smart innovation, best-in-class technologies and global best practices to create value for the nation. A strong sustainable development agenda guides all our actions and business decisions, and we are committed to nurturing MSMEs in all our areas of operations. We understand that this responsibility becomes even more pertinent now that a lot of migrant labourers have receded back to their villages in the wake of the pandemic and need sustainable livelihoods in these remote areas. All of our business units have robust waste management systems in place and scientifically manage the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ trifecta of value-creation by working with local entrepreneurs and community members.”
Kirti Chanda Bihidar, a resident of Kolabira village, who runs his own fly ash brick making unit at Jharsuguda, says, “I am thankful for Vedanta’s presence at Jharsuguda, as it has opened up immense opportunities for small entrepreneurs like us to run successful businesses. Today, I get my raw material free of cost delivered to my shop by Vedanta. On an annual basis, I make about 50 lakh bricks which are mostly used for construction purposes. This business is giving me a very healthy turnover, which is growing rapidly, and I feel proud to be able to provide employment opportunities to others. I hope more people make use of the avenues provided by Vedanta to set up their own businesses.”
All units of Vedanta’s aluminium business have laid down plans for 100 per cent utilisation of fly ash generated at their respective power plants. Besides brick manufacturers, they are also supplying ash to cement manufacturers and for highway construction, building green roads with it, backfilling mine voids for restoring mined-out areas, among other such avenues. In FY21, Vedanta achieved highest ever fly ash utilisation of 117 per cent through these methods and is now looking to expand its ecosystem of MSME partners even further by including more local fly ash brick manufacturers into the fold.