The world is currently in the midst of a water crisis as we observe World Water Day 2021. One in 10 people lack access to safe drinking water and up to 700 million people are projected to be displaced by intense water insecurity as early as 2030. By 2030, India’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply. This not only implies severe water scarcity for millions of people, but also an eventual 6% loss in the country’s GDP.
World Water Day 2021
World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis, and a core focus of the observance is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
“Equal access to clean drinking water and efficient water management will hence define India’s ability to achieve high economic growth and ensure environmental sustainability. However, we continue to see rising demand for the world’s water resources,” says Akanksha Sharma, Head CSR and Sustainability, STL.
What is the theme for World Water Day?
The theme of World Water Day 2021 is valuing water. Without a comprehensive understanding of water’s true, multidimensional value, we will be unable to safeguard this critical resource for the benefit of everyone. Says George Rajkumar, Country President, Grundfos India, “Valuing Water is an apt theme for World Water Day this year. This is a good time for us to pause and revaluate our relationship with water as it is one of the most important natural resources and we depend so much on it. Many Indian cities and regions are battling with various water issues like water scarcity, flooding and lack of clean water. Therefore there is an urgency to protect, restore and conserve our water resources. We collectively, the Government, private industries, civil society and citizens have a role to play here – from robust policies, sustainable technologies, productive grassroot level initiatives to reduce consumption at home and have a holistic approach to manage water better. We need to look at water management with a circular economy perspective and find ways in which we efficiently use water, recycle and reuse it.
Businesses need to invest in tech and innovation to drive responsible use and where possible recycle and reuse this precious resource to decrease fresh water usage and build in consciousness among employees. Industry heavyweights such as Grundfos India and PepsiCo are investing millions in water conservation, management and lake rejuvenation. Here are the top CSR projects in this category for India:
Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) is one of the certified water conservation companies and is emerging as leader in water conservation not only in the region but also at national level. Hindustan Zinc, a subsidiary of Vedanta Group has been declared water positive company. Giving emphasis to water conservation, the company has worked on the sustainability of water resources. HZL has state effluent treatment plants and recycling facilities, sewage treatment plants, rise in water vigilance, and water storage facilities with which it is playing an important role in water-management and progress.
While significantly contributing to the water stewardship drive, Hindustan Zinc is providing safe and pure drinking water in the remote villages of Rajasthan. The state receives lowest rainfall in the country hence it has the lowest per capita availability of water and also has a shortage of groundwater level too. The levels of arsenic, fluoride, and lead in ground water are too high, which is highly hazardous for health.
To provide safe and pure water, RO plants are set up under model project through which 1000 LPH pure water is made available. Water ATMs are also set at some places, where villagers get pure water at reasonable cost. In some areas where clean water source is not available, water is supplied through water tankers. Till now, eight RO plants and 17 ATMs have been setup. Through this, pure water is supplied to the 3200 families in 25 villages. In the coming years, five more RO plants and 22 ATMs will be set up in Debari, Dariba and Chanderiya villages.
In Udaipur, protecting reservoirs from sewage is a crucial issue. For the first time, Hindustan Zinc, in partnership with Municipal Corporation of Udaipur, has started building sewage treatment plant and completed it too. Developing alternative drinking water sources and protecting them was the need of the hour. For this, Hindustan Zinc has built first Sewage Treatment Plant in Udaipur with the capacity of 20 MLD in 2014, which is the first of its kind STP in Rajasthan.
Says CEO of Hindustan Zinc, Arun Misra, “Water conservation is a collective responsibility and needs to be a way of life in whatever we do. At Hindustan Zinc, we are already a 2.41 times Water Positive Company and have a long-term approach to water management that aims to improve our performance, efficiency, increased use of recycled water, gainful utilization of water while focusing on renewable power for sustainable development. As we move forward; we’re committed to achieving our Sustainability Development Goal of being 5 times water positive.”
In 2016, Grundfos identified two SDGs as the company’s primary focus. Since then, have been globally working towards contributing to SDG 6 to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’ and SDG 13 on climate change. They plan to save close to 50 billion m3of fresh water by 2030 and actively contribute to the provision of safe drinking water to 300 million people in need.
With the belief that clean drinking water is a basic human necessity, Grundfos India partnered with the NGO, Hand in Hand in 2019, to bring clean drinking water to Thiruvanai Koil village in Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu. The drinking water system had a direct impact on over 250 households. On average, families in Thiruvanai Koil were able to save around 40 minutes in a day. In the same year, the company initiated another drinking water project and were able to provide drinking water to over 1,450 villagers in Maiyur Panchayat in Tamil Nadu. The villagers primarily consisted of labourers and were travelling close to 2 km every day to collect water for their daily use. The solution provided to them included a bore well, solar operated pump and storage tank. It has significantly helped to reduce the dependency on external sources and build sustainability values among the community.
“Our commitment to World Water Day is strongly aligned with our mission – through our solutions and through our actions we will ensure water access for more people around the world, safeguard our precious water resources and make a positive and lasting impact on the global climate challenges,” says Country President George Rajkumar.
Sterlite Technologies Limited (STL) aims to address the water crisis by exploring innovative approaches that promote circular use of this scarce natural resource by appropriately treating wastewater for groundwater recharge, conserving water, enabling access to clean and safe drinking water, applying treated water for afforestation and agriculture as well as sensitizing stakeholders in communities and within STL through engagement programs that aim to bring in responsible use.
“At STL, we are committed to water stewardship. Our recent partnership with World Bank’s 2030 Water Resources Group, proactively identifies innovative and tech-driven solutions to conserve water resources and promote water security through sustained behavioural change, groundwater replenishment and livelihood enhancement. Till date over 200,000 cubic meters of water have been recycled and reused through our water interventions, helping us reduce our freshwater consumption for manufacturing. Through our CSR programmes, we have replenished over 785,000 cubic meters of water in communities which has benefitted many lives,” says Akanksha Sharma, Head CSR and Sustainability, STL.
Water is one of the ‘champion causes’ across the Hinduja Group for its multifaceted CSR activity. In 2020, the group contributed Rs. 34 crores towards water conservation, restoration and stewardship. Through the Jal Jeevan programme, more than 53,000 Ha land equivalent to 1 lakh football fields has been treated. Further, a storage capacity of approximately 25,000 Olympic swimming pools (219 million Cu. ft) has been created. Lastly this project has also been instrumental in dispensing around 629 million litres of safe drinking water.
To enhance water bodies across the country, 2400 volunteers from all group companies along with NGO partners have worked together to restore water bodies that have been heavily contaminated or dried up. The Hinduja Group also participates actively in restoring water structures such as lakes, ponds, tanks, drains, rivers and step wells, dispensing safe drinking water, rooftop harvesting in areas which receive less than 200 mm of rainfall, restoration of wetlands and Himalayan springs and watershed development. The Jal Jeevan programme is currently active in 18 states of India namely Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Odisha to name some.
Paul Abraham, President, Hinduja Foundation said, “Our main mission is to emerge as a water-positive group by reducing operational water-related risks & contribute to nation building. Going forward, we aim to significantly impact many more human lives.”
PepsiCo declares that the beverage company has helped more than 55 million people gain access to safe water globally since 2006 and out of this, 50% beneficiaries (27 million people) are from India. PepsiCo Foundation’s project with WaterAid in South India-Nelamangala, Palakkad and Sricity crossed a milestone of benefiting over 2,70,000 people through interventions in those districts and have enabled harvesting of over 160 million litres of water through rain water harvesting and recharging of over 2300 million litres of groundwater by year end 2020.
The Foundation also catalyzed nearly $700 million in additional funding over the same period which included over $22 million investment in India to partner with multiple organizations like Water.org, Safe Water Network & WaterAid to help provide safe water access to marginalized communities.
“In India specifically, PepsiCo has been helping communities to effectively conserve, manage, and distribute water for more than a decade through innovative practices like direct seeding, drip irrigation, and community water recharge interventions. PepsiCo India is also fully aligned to the Government’s Jal Jeevan Mission and the company’s philanthropic arm has committed an additional $3 million last year towards positively impacting another 2 lakh farming communities in West Bengal and Maharashtra through sustainable safe water access interventions,” says Ahmed ElSheikh, President, PepsiCo India.
Water is an indispensable resource for Coca-Cola India, so the company has been working since more than a decade to ensure sustainable availability of water, not only for its own business operations but also for the communities around it through its water strategy which focuses on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Replenish.
In 2007, The Coca-Cola Company made a pioneering commitment to replenish 100% of the water it uses. To meet this target, Anandana—The Coca-Cola India Foundation and the company’s bottling partners work along with regional NGO partners and community members to restore neglected and deteriorated watershed areas and other water conservation projects in remote and water-stressed areas across the country. The projects pay special attention to community participation with a focus on women, who often reach supervisory roles in the village “Pani Samitis” (water committees) to ensure maintenance and sustainability of community water projects.
Maharashtra has battled drought for many years and as a result of which the rivers have ebbed, water in dams and reservoirs has depleted and over-exploitation of groundwater has resulted in limited availability of water. Anandana has partnered with Haritika to improve water availability through run-off water harvesting measures. This helps in increasing groundwater recharge in the watershed area and improves access to water for agricultural and domestic use. It results in higher agricultural productivity and creating better employment opportunities for the local communities.
Today, Coca-Cola in India has been able to create a significant and positive impact, setting up 500 water replenishment structures with a potential of replenishing 25.1 billion litres of water.