Bhubaneswar: Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) has signed an MoU with Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF) for a CSR project to uplift the economic status of rural households in Odisha by providing them with sustainable livelihood opportunities.

The company will spend Rs 20.29 crore for the CSR project 'Utthaan in' the next five-and-half-a-year under this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

It was signed by B Sairam, General Manager (CSR), MCL and D N Shindey, vice-president, BAIF, in the presence of L N Mishra, Director (Personnel), MCL on Friday, a company official said.

"This association of MCL with BAIF, which has a proven record in the field of community development, will go a long way in the socio-economic development of rural peripheral villages," Mishra said.

With this CSR project, MCL aims at creating self-employment opportunities for the rural poor families by promoting agro-based activities in 40 shortlisted villages of Jharsuguda, Angul, Sundargarh and Sambalpur districts in Odisha.

The executing partner BAIF will set-up cluster offices in these four districts to undertake activities such as animal husbandry, dairy farming, goat rearing, backyard poultry farming, horticulture along with awareness creation and capacity building programmes, MCL said in a statement.

This comprehensive community development programme will benefit 6,174 families, it said.

Besides plantation and aftercare of fruits and forest trees, cultivation of suitable intercrop, post-plantation care, improved agri practices, pest management and soil conservation, this programme will also work on bringing changes in behavioural aspects with respect to safe drinking water, health awareness, clean kitchen, sanitation and use of toilets in the rural villages.

MCL, which is a leading coal producer, contributing to 25 per cent of total coal production of Coal India, is also the top contributor to Odisha under its CSR initiatives.

MCL contributed Rs 267 crore under CSR during the 2017-18 financial year, as against prescribed Rs 123 crore, it added.