NGO cooperation in India
In December 2017 the 100-MW Pavagada solar plant was connected to the grid in India. Thousands of migrant workers from diverse backgrounds around the country, with different religions, cultures, ethnicities, language, food habits and social rituals were involved in the construction phase.
Parivartan, a grassroots-level NGO was brought in to help Fortum to draw synergy from this diversity and to ensure functionality between the workers. The Parivartan team members became a part of the community. They shared the same living conditions at the workers’ housing accommodations throughout the construction period. They started with small steps by first encouraging the workers to use good hygiene practices and gradually stepped up their efforts by sharing their knowledge about worker’s rights, the value of safety, respect for women workers, and how to use and share all the wellbeing facilities provided by the company.
Parivartan employed many ingenious ways of communicating. They organized Saturday movies, and when the house was full they would take a break and talk about one of the topics. Separate events were also organised for female workers to discuss topics important to them. Parivartan trained workers to volunteer as, for example, hygiene inspectors, safety stewards and day care attendants for children. All aligned behaviours were rewarded. Parivartan also brought fun and games to their pitch and communicated through street dramas. This approach ensured better recall and implementation of good practices at the workplace and better personal and group wellbeing.
The results were impressive: the rate of absenteeism dropped, safety compliance increased, and the use of alcohol or other misconduct became nonexistent.
Fortum’s activities have also been appreciated by the governmental health officials. Our well maintained housing accommodations and the high standards achieved in preventing diseases common in the area have been showcased as a benchmark for other solar developers.