How businesses jumped into help in Kerala floods

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By Shruty Yadav

When Kerala faced massive floods, unprecedented in nearly a century, civil society, NGOs and state, national and foreign governments came for help.

Through innovative ideas, cash and material donations, fundraising and offering of free services, the corporate community too played a significant role in the rescue, relief and rebuilding efforts.

Tech industry

Google launched its person finder tool that allowed users to fill in the details of a missing person. This allowed people to inform rescue operators about the location of themselves or someone they knew was stuck.

Facebook launched a crisis response page for Kerala flood victims to share information related to the floods. It also activated the Safety Check feature. The social media platform played a crucial role in each stage of the disaster, allowing people to collaborate and pass on crtitical information to each other.

Facebook also allowed fundraising on its platform, a new feature, using which a group of techies from the US, for instance, raised over a million dollar within a few days. The company also donated to the relief fund.

Paytm, the biggest digital wallet service in India started a monetary donation drive that asked the users to donate any sum of money through the app that would be forwarded straight to the CM’s relief funds. The drive collected Rs.30 crores till the 21st of August.

Panasonic deployed a team of volunteers to repair switches, wires and appliances. Appliance maker LG said it repair their products for free. Tech company Huawei offered free phone repair service for users till August 31.

Help in kind — by e-tailers:

Amazon under the initiative ‘Amazon cares’ provided help in kinds to the affected by delivering products as per requirement. It partnered with NGOs such as Habitat for Humanity, World Vision India and Goonj.

Similarly, Flipkart in collaboration with BigBasket tied up with Oxfam and Goonj to let users buy products that would be then supplied directly as donations.

Food delivery app Zomato collaborated with Akshay Patra. It asked users to buy food for the flood victims that would straight be delivered to them on nominal rates.

The telecom industry

A number of telecom operators stepped forward by relaxing the call rates and data limits in the flood-affected areas. Service providers such as BSNL, Airtel and Jio offered free services in the area, as connectivity was a major need for tracking victims stuck in the floods.

Corporate Social Responsibility

While Kerala found itself cash-starved, the central ministry of corporate affairs said it will divert funds collected through corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending by companies to Kerala’s CM relief fund.

It also allowed companies contributing towards Kerala flood relief — in cash and kind– to count this toward their mandatory 2 per cent spending on CSR initiatives under the Companies Act, 2013.

As per the Company Law, any company with a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or more, or net worth of Rs 500 crore or profit of Rs 5 crore and more, is required to spend 2% of its profit on CSR.

Reliance foundation donated Rs.21cr and provided medical aid for the flood victims including medical checkups and medicines. It also offered help for the repairing and rebuilding of public infrastructure.

Adani group donated Rs.25cr for relief and 25cr for rehabilitation.

Several other companies like ICICI, Lulu group international, UAE exchange also offered help in cash.

KPMG, one of the leading consultancy firms in India, offered free consultancy services for the state in rebuilding efforts.

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