NELLORE: Even before debates started over the ‘jobs to locals’ legislation of the state government, firms in the Sri City Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Chittoor district have been emplying locals in large numbers.
Most of the firms have employed over 90-95 per cent locals, which is way above the bench mark fixed by the state government. In fact, companies in Sri City are looking to pack their firms with near 100 per cent locals. Only a few top executive roles would probably be given to outsiders. What’s more, most women in the locality are now employed in these firms. Companies think this has created a better economic eco-sytem in the area. Rosters of some companies, refreshingly, have a woman strength of 90%. The secne wasn’t like this before Sri City came in 2011.
A decade back, there were hardly any industries in the drought-hit areas located between Nellore’s Tada mandal and Satyavedu mandal of Chittoor. Sri City has completely transformed the face of the region. The SEZ has provided employment to over 50,000 people, mostly locals. While over 30, 000 are engaged in jobs provided by the industries, the rest are engaged in support services such as construction, operating vehicles on contract, man-power supply, house-keeping and security. The employment data pertaining to the surrounding villages of Sri City confirms that, about 95% of the people in employable age are getting livelihood, either directly or indirectly. Income of an average household were doubled to Rs 80,000-Rs 90,000 per year from Rs 36,000 during pre-Sri City period.
“I can confidently say that Sri City has transformed the lives of several thousand people in the neighbourhood and more so because a good number of women are employed in the firms,” C Ravindranth, spokesperson of Sri City told TOI. A researcher from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Hyderabad), Sindhura, recently did a study on the economy of the area. She feels that the advent of Sri City made a positive influence in terms of economic empowerment of women. Most women in the area feel that employment opportunities in Sri City have given them a voice and the ability to take a stand and speak confidently for themselves.
Take the example of Savithri. Sri City has allowed her to run her household and her family of four after her husband fell seriously ill. Savithri works at Rising Star Miobile (a unit of Foxconn) that has over 15,000 women on its rolls. Savithri was saying how the management of her firm takes utmost care to provide security to women staffers. They are picked up from their homes located in the villages everyday and dropped back after the work hours.
Another woman, Saritha, from Varadayyapalem village credits her job for a better and empowered position in the society. “My earnings are around Rs 12,000, which is more than my husband’s, who is a tailor. It gives me respectability, ” said a beaming Saritha.
Companies like Pals Plush, Everton Tea, MSR Garments, KGI Clothing, Unicham, Colgate Palmolive and Kellogg’s all have a large woman workforce. The state government has tweaked rules and now firms are hiring women in the third shift (late night) as well. Some firms are also offering dormitory accommodation for those who live far from the factories. “Women not only work hard but motivate many,” said a senior official of an industry.