West Bengal (WB) has always been the centre of culture and modernization. However, its proximity to the turbulent waters of the Bay of Bengal often makes it a victim of many cyclones and other natural disasters. This not only hinders the progress of the state but also makes it a destination for various CSR initiatives.
CSR Initiatives in West Bengal
ITC’s CSR intervention in Agriculture in WB
ITC has been expanding its footprint in the agricultural sector in WB. Leveraging the knowledge and experience of it’s globally acknowledged e-Choupal programme, the Company has been working with the farmers of the state to promote contemporary and relevant agriculture practices in over 500 villages, leading to a reduction in input costs, improved yields and enhanced incomes. Over 70,000 farmers have benefitted from ITC interventions in the state, so far.
In addition, the Company has spearheaded a wheat development programme that covers around 8,500 acres, focusing on providing region-specific improved varieties and agronomical practices to increase yield. ITC has implemented targeted interventions in rice, fresh fruits and vegetables. The Company also engages with aqua farmers, supporting a prawn value chain that is anchored by our brand ITC MasterChef Super Safe Prawns, which is exported to the US, Japan and Vietnam. ITC’s subsidiary, Technico’s early generation high-quality seed is used by over 1,35,000 farmers in 12 districts, increasing yield, quality and reducing costs.
Damini Initiative by PNB Metlife
PNB MetLife has tackled several health and education challenges facing underprivileged girls and women through its Damini program, including Education and awareness for girls on menstrual health and hygiene, bringing financial empowerment to rural women by providing them with skill development workshops to be self-reliant and financially independent. Such initiatives include:
Education: PNB MetLife in partnership with Nanhi Kali supported the education of close to 1,400 girls at Moga (Punjab) and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh). The initiative employed 46 local women as part-time teachers for the girls.
Skill Development and Financial Inclusion: The Company in partnership with Drishtee NGO supports a livelihood program – ‘Sakhi Swavalamban’, where skill development training and financial literacy awareness programmes were conducted for 250 women from 117 villages across the Varanasi district. There was a 40% increase in the household income of the beneficiaries.
Health and Hygiene: PNB MetLife has partnered with LittleBigHelp India Trust to spread awareness on menstrual health among adolescent girls in two slums of Kolkata, West Bengal. The CSR initiative provides aid to 300 adolescent girls from the location to maintain menstrual hygiene and will spread awareness among 9800 residents of the slums.
Carlsberg Group’s Initiative to Make Available Clean Drinking Water in West Bengal
Carlsberg Group announced a partnership with Desolenator, the world’s first solar thermal sustainable water purification technology, to create clean drinking water for a town of 4,000, in the Sundarbans in West Bengal in November 2020.
The Sundarbans, West Bengal, around 120 km from Carlsberg’s Kolkata brewery, and home to around 4.7 million people, is at a critical point. An area surrounded by saltwater, suffering the immediate consequences of rising sea levels. Climate change causes changing weather patterns and more extreme events. In 2020, Cyclone Amphan swept through West Bengal, causing devastation in an area already hard-hit by the pandemic.
The sustainable desalination project, due to complete mid-2021, will create 20,000 litres of clean drinking water using the heat and power of the sun. A community-led water distribution model, designed in partnership with WaterAid and Strathclyde University, will empower local women entrepreneurs by providing employment.
The multi-disciplinary partnership unites Carlsberg’s ambitious sustainability plans with Desolenator’s innovative technology, local expertise from WaterAid and the Sundarbans Social Development Centre, and world-class research from Strathclyde University. This is part of the ambitions in the brewer’s ‘Together Towards ZERO’ sustainability programme. It aims to eliminate water waste across its breweries by 2030 and to protect shared water resources in high-risk areas.
Desolenator’s sustainable water purification system is 100% solar-powered, harvesting thermal and electrical energy to distil water. This allows it to create high-quality water from the most complex sources, delivering transformative impact for communities without damaging the environment.
Key to the project’s success is to understand how people will access the water created. A community-led distribution model is being designed through a global, multidisciplinary partnership including the local expertise of NGOs WaterAid and the Sundarbans Social Development Centre, leading researchers from Strathclyde University in the UK, and grant support from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. Tailored to the lives and needs of the people of South 24 Pargana’s district, the distribution model will create employment for female micro-entrepreneurs, empowering people and families within the community.
This transformative approach enables the long-term supply of clean drinking water, setting the foundation for all other development goals to thrive – health, education, income generation and rural female empowerment.