The National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai, a premium institute under the MHRD, had adopted five Adivasi villages in Murbad Taluka of Thane District, Maharashtra, under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan. It recently distributed grocery and medical kits to these five villages- namely, Vadachi Vadi, Shirwadi, Ekleshawadi, Shiroshi Katkariwadi, and Valvihare. NITIE is helping the Adivasi communities in these villages in training, capacity building and access to market links to earn a livelihood.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the villagers are facing challenges, since they are largely dependent on the sale of forest produce and handicraft artifacts. Professor Manoj Kumar, the director of NITIE chalked out an innovative way of supporting the villagers. First, grocery kits would be distributed to the villagers. Then, the institute would buy products made by the villagers.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, NITIE has been constantly in touch with the coordinator of Murbad village to find ways of supporting the villagers. The aim was not only to distribute provisions but to provide livelihoods. The NITIE team explored different products that the villagers could manufacture and sell. They picked two kinds of products: homemade papad and bamboo baskets.

The main challenges faced were procurement and distribution. At the village level, raw material procurement and product preparation were coordinated. At the same time, at the institute level, necessary permissions were obtained and grocery procurement and kitting operations coordinated with the help of NITIE students and staff.