India Inc Looks to Ease Maha Wa­ter Cri­sis

From sup­ply­ing wa­ter tankers to con­struct­ing check dams, cor­po­rates are go­ing the extra mile to help drought-hit re­gions

The Economic Times - - Com­pa­nies -

Dev­ina Sen­gupta & Sreer­adha D. Basu

Mum­bai: As the threat of a wa­ter short­age looms larger with each pass­ing year, India Inc’s big­gies aren’t just fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing their own con­sump­tion ef­fi­ciency. The Tata Group, Go­drej In­dus­tries, Bis­leri, Hin­dus­tan Unilever, SAB Miller India and RPG En­ter­prises have be­come in­creas­ingly active in help­ing to ease the cri­sis in drought-prone re­gions.

Last year-end, a team rep­re­sent­ing Tata Mo­tors, Tata Power, In­dian Ho­tels, Tata Con­sult­ing En­gi­neers and Tata Com­mu­ni­ca­tions headed to the drought-af­fected dis­tricts of the Marath­wada re­gion in Ma­ha­rash­tra to con­duct a needs as­sess­ment sur­vey, in­ter­act­ing with vil­lagers and se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers to get a first­hand understanding of the on­ground sit­u­a­tion. The team then de­cided to adopt an in­te­grated ap­proach to­wards re­lief work to be car­ried out in three dis­tricts of the re­gion — Latur, Beed and Os­man­abad.

About 15,000 vil­lages in Ma­ha­rash­tra, a ma­jor­ity of them in Latur, Beed and Os­man­abad dis­tricts, are in the grip of an acute wa­ter short­age. Be­low-aver­age rain­fall for two con­sec­u­tive mon­soons has de­pleted wa­ter lev­els in reser­voirs, af­fect­ing ir­ri­ga­tion and drink­ing wa­ter sup­plies and im­pair­ing plant­ing of crops and elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion.

Ral­lis India is run­ning an on-go­ing Jal Dhan pro­gramme in Beed, Latur, Akola and Chiplun in Ma­ha­rash­tra and Voltas has rolled out its Drought Re­sponse Pro­gramme across Os­man­abad and Latur dis­tricts, fo­cus­ing on sup­ply­ing wa­ter tankers.

Tata Tech­nolo­gies, Tata Au­toComp Sys­tems and Tata Toyo Ra­di­a­tors have planned to re­pair and con­struct rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing struc­tures in the vil­lages of Os­man­abad district.

In ad­di­tion, Tata Mo­tors has pro­vided tanks to store drink­ing wa­ter in re­mote vil­lages of Raigad, Pune and Pal­ghar dis­tricts of the state through the Su­mant Mool­gaokar De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion.

“Wa­ter con­ser­va­tion is an area one should look into and bring un­der the sphere of in­flu­ence of India Inc. It is a real prob­lem to­day and will worsen with time,” said Marico In­dus­tries chair­man Harsh Mari­wala. “Cor­po­rates along with the gov­ern­ment of India have a role to play in this.” In Novem­ber-De­cem­ber, Go­drej In­dus­tries started three projects on water­shed man­age­ment in dif-

For Sake of Ev­ery Drop

Tata went to droughtaf­fected dis­tricts to con­duct a needs as­sess­ment sur­vey projects on water­shed man­age­ment in Ma­ha­rash­tra will con­tinue to build check dams

with WOTR and MGN­REGA pro­gram across 75 vil­lages of Jalna district

fer­ent parts of Ma­ha­rash­tra, in­clud­ing the Marath­wada re­gion, un­der its sus­tain­abil­ity strat­egy called Good & Green.

The group, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Na­tional Bank for Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment, plans to take up water­shed man­age­ment pro­grammes in other states. “The water­shed man­age­ment pro­gramme will be­come a big area of fo­cus for us. We have seen that it gives a big boost to ru­ral liveli­hoods,” said Vikas Goswami, head of Good & Green at Go­drej In­dus­tries. “In the next three years, some of the cur­rent dry ar­eas will turn into green and the wa­ter will be avail­able even in sum­mer.” Water­shed man­age­ment in­cludes land use and wa­ter man­age­ment prac­tices to pro­tect and im­prove the qual­ity of wa­ter and other nat­u­ral re­sources.

Bot­tled wa­ter com­pany Bis­leri In-

,RPG En­ter­prises, RIL im­ple­ment ways of sav­ing wa­ter in their

VIKAS GOSWAMI Head of Good & Green, Go­drej The water­shed man­age­ment pro­gramme will be­come a big area of fo­cus for us. We have seen that it gives a big boost to ru­ral liveli­hoods

ter­na­tional, which un­der­takes rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing ev­ery year, con­structed four new check dams in four vil­lages in Vikram­gad in Pal­ghar district of Ma­ha­rash­tra and re­paired and ren­o­vated 10 old check dams in the tribal vil­lages of Val­sad district in Gu­jarat last year. These dams help store 285 mil­lion litres of wa­ter, ben­e­fit­ting 14 vil­lages and 192 farm­ers.

“We are plan­ning to con­struct 14 more new check dams in Dhanu/ Vikram­gad, Ma­ha­rash­tra in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ro­tary Club of South Mum­bai,” said Ramesh Chauhan, chair­man of Bis­leri. The Water­shed Or­gan­i­sa­tion Trust, an NGO that works on con­ser­va­tion projects and cli­mate change is­sues in 3,700 vil­lages in seven In­dian states, said the in­ter­est from com­pa­nies in lend­ing a help­ing hand has grown man­i­fold.

“Around four years ago, Royal Bank of Scot­land was our only client. Now, we have eight to 12 com­pa­nies as cus­tomers who work to­wards wa­ter con­ser­va­tion and ed­u­cate vil­lages on the im­por­tance of sav­ing wa­ter,” said Prakash Keskar, a di­rec­tor of this group. The clients in­clude Tata Cap­i­tal, Asian Paints, Go­drej and Hin­dus­tan Unilever.

“Dur­ing this Latur cri­sis, these com­pa­nies have also reached out to the foun­da­tion and dis­cus­sions are on on how they can help the drought-stricken ar­eas,” said Keskar.

The Hin­dus­tan Unilever Foun­da­tion is work­ing with the trust and the gov­ern­ment in 75 vil­lages of Jalna district. Their water­shed pro­grammes have brought in as­sured wa­ter po­ten­tial of 1,728 mil­lion litres and re­duced mi­gra­tion of peo­ple from vil­lages by gen­er­at­ing 142,777 per­son-days of em­ploy­ment.

Team from Go­drej started Bis­leri In­ter­na­tional HUL work­ing SABMiller India PHOTO CREDIT: NITIN SON­AWANE

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