New Delhi, 31 March 2022: Diversified Indian conglomerate ITC Limited accomplished yet another distinguished feat in its continuous pursuit of transforming lives and landscapes by receiving the First Prize for Water Management and Conservation at the third edition of the National Water Awards by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India. The Company was ranked First in the category of ‘Best Industry for CSR Activities’.
The Award recognising ITC’s sustained efforts in water stewardship was presented by the Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, in the presence of the Union Minister for Water Resources and Development, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, along with other dignitaries. For several decades, ITC has been running a large-scale Integrated Water Stewardship Programme that aims to provide access to water to support livelihoods and create a positive water balance through supply side augmentation and demand side management. This is being enabled through community-based participation in planning and execution of interventions based on scientific water balance assessments. The programmes are also aligned to the “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana”.
The esteemed award is a recognition of ITC’s unwavering commitment to augmenting environmental and societal resources in line with the Chairman Mr. Sanjiv Puri’s Sustainability 2.0 Vision that calls for inclusive strategies that can support even more livelihoods and pursue newer pathways to fight climate change. The Company’s Integrated Water Stewardship Programme has cumulatively covered over 1.2 million acres of water-stressed area across 38 districts in 14 states, benefitting over 375,000 households. The initiative has supported 7.3-million-person days of livelihood.
Sharing his views on receiving the esteemed award, Mr. Prabhakar Lingareddy, Executive Vice-President and Head- Social Investments, ITC Limited said, “This is a proud moment for Team ITC, which has been pursuing an integrated and holistic approach towards ensuring water security for stakeholders over the last two decades. Today’s award is a recognition of our large-scale efforts including water harvesting through the restoration of existing structures and construction of new structures as well as aligning to the Government’s Vision of ‘More crop per Drop’ through efficient water management and conservation. It was indeed a privilege and honour to receive the prestigious award from the Hon’ble President of India in the presence of the Hon’ble Minister for Jal Shakthi and other dignitaries. This award will indeed inspire us to strengthen our endeavours in water stewardship with more vigour and enthusiasm.”
ITC has put in place a three-pronged strategy for effective implementation of its water stewardship programme which includes a large scale watershed development initiative that strengthens availability of water across 14 states through water harvesting structures and ensures equitable use of water through the formation of water user groups, a dedicated programme to reduce water use in agriculture through demand side management, and a scientific approach to lowering the net water consumption at all its units. The objective is to achieve water security at the watershed level in factory catchments to achieve positive water balance as well as drought proofing of Agri-catchments to minimise risks to agricultural livelihoods arising from drought and moisture stress. Over the years, over 21,991 water harvesting structures have been built with net water storage of 41.95 million cubic meters.
Another critical component of ITC’s Water Stewardship Programme is Demand side. Recognising the critical imperative of reducing water use, especially in agriculture, ITC works with farmers to achieve ‘more crop per drop’ and improve farmer incomes. Around 3 lakh acres have been covered till date across 6 states. Through micro irrigation and crop-specific precision agronomical practices, potential water savings are to the tune of 208 million cubic metres in a year as per various studies, which translates to savings of 25-40% at field level.
Considering ITC’s expertise and quality of implementation, various state and central government departments and programmes have partnered with the Company for water management and conservation across India. As many as 52 private public partnerships were established till 2020-21 for water management.
ITC’s efforts to ensure water security in its catchments has also been globally recognised with its Kovai unit in Tamil Nadu being the first site in India to be awarded the Platinum rating by the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standards which is the highest recognition for water stewardship in the world. Going forward, the Company will strive to certify all sites in high water-stressed areas in its catchments as per the international water stewardship standard of AWS by 2035.