TPNODL’s Urja Sakhi Program Ropes in Rural Women from SHGs to Assist In Consumer Empowerment Initiatives

• Engages 3,600 women from 290 WSHGs inhabiting in the rural areas of Odisha; Plans to engage 350 WSHGs by March ’23
• SHG women successfully executing jobs such as meter reading, billing, and collection
Bhubaneswar: TP Northern Odisha Distribution Limited (TPNODL), a JV between Tata Power and Government of Odisha, is working towards empowering rural women in the state through its innovative Urja Sakhi program. The program, aims to engage Women Self-Help Groups (WSHGs) in various consumer facing jobs such as meter reading, billing and collection activities thereby providing sustainable livelihood opportunities to women in the remote districts of Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj.
The program was started to address the challenge of reaching out to rural consumers in these districts and to support the Odisha government’s focus on women empowerment. The Urja Sakhi intervention is sustainable as the work they do is essential for the company to collect its dues.
These women, branded as “Urja Sakhis” were provided with capacity building training, digital literacy training and supported to become well-versed in all aspects of being a good service provider including usage of the mobile IT apps, basic knowledge of electricity distribution and the use of spot-billing machines. They were also trained to interact with the prospective consumers and make efforts to motivate them to be authorized customers. They are also playing a pivotal role in checking power theft and help TPNODL in taking appropriate action.
These women earn approximately Rs.8000 to Rs.12000 per month, and the program offers both fixed and variable incentives, providing a greater motivation for them to excel in their work. So far, the initiative has engaged more than 290 WSHGs with and plans to engage 350 WSHGs by March 2023. It has directly impacted 3,600 women members and 4900 household individuals indirectly across 760 villages in 3 districts.
TPNODL CEO Mr Bhaskar Sarkar said, “The Urja Sakhi program is a fine example of how TPNODL is empowering thousands of women from the rural areas of Odisha by helping them earn a sustainable living through activities such as meter reading, billing, and collection. This has not only helped them economically, but has helped them cultivate their self-confidence and earn respect in society.”
In addition to the economic empowerment, the program is also promoting holistic empowerment of these women, enhancing their personalities and giving them a social recognition. These women have created an identity of their own.
Ms Kalabati from WSHG in Nischintpur, Keonjhar says,”After working as TPNODL’s Urja Sakhi for the last year, there have been huge changes in my life. I have been able to earn a stable income each month, which I am able to invest in my children’s education and health. We have also experienced upward mobility in our social status”
Ms. Abanti from WSHG in Birateswari, Mayurbhanj says, “I feel empowered by TPNODL’s Urja Sakhi initiative. My monthly earnings have enabled me to not only contribute towards my children’s future but also earn respect amongst our family and the larger community”

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