Nayara Energy: Transforming Communities Through Inclusive Development

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Anup Vikal

At Nayara Energy, we own and operate the second-largest, single-site refinery in India and actively partner with the communities to make a meaningful impact on the lives of people. Driving inclusive growth is at the core of our beliefs, especially in the 15 villages surrounding our Vadinar refinery in Gujarat.  We continue to play an active role through various interventions in the areas of health and nutrition, education, skill development and livelihood.

Apart from these, our sustainable development initiatives encompass livelihood, education, and skill development and health and sanitation. We have also inked public-private partnerships to improve the living standards of the communities, thereby contributing to the overall progress of the region.

Based on the analysis of the study and keeping the key issues in mind, we have tailor-made sustainable solutions for the farmers. In a public-private partnership with the Government of Gujarat, we endeavour to make the region water neutral in the next few years.

The area around our Vadinar refinery is located in the saline, coastal belt of Gujarat. Hence, developing farmlands and optimising income from the land is a huge challenge for the farmer community.  In our continued efforts to support the communities, hydrological studies have been carried out. The study examined the groundwater flow and its chemical properties, as well as the management of the sustainable use of groundwater resources. Based on the analysis of the study and keeping the key issues in mind, we have tailor-made sustainable solutions for the farmers. In a public-private partnership with the Government of Gujarat, we endeavour to make the region water neutral in the next few years. Apart from using technological interventions, the project involves climate-smart agriculture practices, integrated water resources management, and other allied activities like animal husbandry. Through these interventions, we have been successful in increasing farmer income in the region over a sustained period.

In the first phase, the focus is on transforming 5000 hectares of land by taking the lead in extensive surface water storage, groundwater recharge, introducing drip irrigation, seismic studies, and crop diversification methods. These 5000 hectares is part of the 18,000 hectares of land area, spread over 15 villages, which currently falls under the programme.

Our initiatives are designed to improve the quality of life for the people, offering them access to income-generating programmes and projects for sustained water availability. Over the years, this water resource development and management programme aims to address the issue of water scarcity and improve the level of water quality in the 15 surrounding villages.

Project Gramsamruddhi is our novel initiative aimed at uplifting the socio-economic parameters of local communities, which include 15 villages in the Devbhumi Dwarka district. The programme adopts an inclusive, multi-pronged approach that caters to all sections within the community.

Project Gramsamruddhi has three thematic areas:

Water and Soil Conservation 

In collaboration with the Government of Gujarat, we deployed various micro-irrigation techniques across the Devbhumi Dwarka district. This has increased water use efficiency by 30  per cent per hectare.

The project has benefitted close to 10,000 people. Project Gramsamruddhi has increased additional water storage and recharge capacity by 8.47 MCM against the groundwater deficit of 44 MCM. By promoting micro-irrigation techniques and soil moisture conservation, water consumption has reduced by 2.97 MCM, delivering a cumulative benefit of  11.44MCM, which is noteworthy.

The other successful measures that the project ensured was the construction and renovation of  484 water harvesting structures. The promotion of newer techniques of irrigation has also increased water use efficiency in around 380 hectares of land.

For Ajuben Gagiya, a marginal farmer from Motamandha village of Devbhumi Dwarka district, innovations in irrigation techniques have not only led to a bountiful harvest of groundnut but have also led to a substantial decrease in water requirements. This was made possible through our various programmes for livelihood development.

Animal Husbandry

Livestock is an integral part of the village ecosystem of any area. To augment the family income in the villages surrounding the refinery, livestock management training programmes have been launched. In this regard, we administered the spread of cattle healthcare with the help of Pashusakhis (women in the communities). They have been instrumental in spearheading the change in cattle rearing in the area.

For enhancing livestock care, new fodder land has been developed in 83 hectares of the wasteland. This has resulted in a 20 per cent decrease in the requirement of fodder in three village gaushalas (a shelter for cows, calves, and oxen).

Breed improvement programmes have also been introduced to integrate milk production and dairying activities scientifically and holistically. Around 1198 female calves of Gir breed and 1062 Zafrawadi buffaloes were born through this programme. With better dissemination of knowledge, there was also a reduction in the animal mortality rate in the region.

Women Empowerment

Women empowerment is an overarching theme in all of our CSR initiatives. We support various micro-enterprises that empower women with financial stability like the waste paper recycling unit in Singach village that is solely run by women producing high-quality hand-made recycled paper.

We have also linked 900 women to about 57 Self Help Groups (SHGs), thereby introducing them to micro-financing options and activities focusing on livelihood generation. In this regard, a women-led stitching centre in Vadinar has now transformed into a full-fledged garment manufacturing enterprise.

The programmes aimed at sustainable livelihood and water resource development have made a positive impact on the villages surrounding the Vadinar refinery. Several success stories resonate with the results delivered. For instance, Hirabhai from Mithoi village has been cultivating organic Barhi dates for the last two years, owing to the consistent water supply to the farms. The introduction of micro-irrigation techniques has ensured bumper produce for the past two years for Hirabhai.

Brimming Ponds, Abundant Harvests

Amarsangh, a farmer from Jakhar village in Devbhumi Dwarka district used to harvest a single seasonal crop, on his rain-fed land of 10 bighas. Various assessments and water resource management interventions by Nayara Energy are ensuring an increase in storage capacity of the pond and enabling farmers like Amarsangh to benefit from better irrigation, more crops per year and a considerable increase in the crop yield.

As an example, Amarsangh alone saw an increase in the annual yield of cotton from 300 kg to 440 kg and his profit grew significantly from INR 87000 to INR 1.72 lakhs in about two years’ time.

Amarsangh Jadeja from Jakhar village says, “I had never imagined that I would see the pond brimming with water. But I am seeing it now!”

It is not just the agricultural produce that has seen a sharp increase. The availability of water has encouraged farmers to switch to organic and modern methods of farming. This was not possible earlier when the region was plagued with water scarcity. More farmers are opening up to the idea of trying less water-intensive crops.

Besides water sustainability, we also work with the local community to provide better health and nutrition programmes and drive education for the local children. Our community health project provides primary healthcare services and pathological facilities to more than 60,000 patients across 15 villages of Devbhumi Dwarka district. Another remarkable initiative of ours,  Project Tushti was launched in 2019 in collaboration with the Government of Gujarat to improve the levels of nutrition in Devbhumi Dwaraka. It is the process that led to its formulation and what it aims to achieve that sets this project apart from other similar initiatives aimed at social development. Taking forward the vision of Kuposhan Mukt Bharat, Project Tushti is directed at improving the levels of nutrition across 249 villages in the district of Devdhumi Dwarka, contributing to the overall progress of the region.

The various initiatives taken by us to enhance the livelihood of people residing in the district have been undertaken after a phased study of the region. Project Gramsamruddhi and Project Tushti took into account the socio-economic diversity, as well as the environmental limitations of the region. Water resource development then becomes the key focus for a region that struggles with water supply. For the largely agrarian economy, water is a vital part of commerce. Enhancing the water storage capacity has not only increased the yearly yield of agricultural produce but has also encouraged farmers to adopt newer techniques of crop farming.

On the education front, the Gramshiksha initiative focuses on making a holistic difference to local communities. The education programme caters to people in the age group of 6–35 years across 15 villages in Devbhumi Dwarka district. The objective of the programme is to improve the grading of schools and bring them all under ‘Category A’. Close to 4000 children across these villages are a part of this programme. Gramshiksha makes use of NIOS classes, SMART classes, and libraries to help students achieve multi-grade level competencies. Between 2018 and 2019, 11 schools recorded an improvement in school grading, and 88 per cent of students achieved grade-level competencies.

Talking about technology, the Integrated Lab for Soft-Skills development (iLabss) deserves a mention. This interactive lab for soft skills is built in collaboration with the Government of Gujarat at ITI Khambaliya, in Devbhumi Dwarka district. The lab has trained over 1200 students in last the four years in making them future-ready for gaining meaningful employment.

Back to School after Two Decades

35-year-old Neetaba Mansang Jadeja is unlike any other woman in the Mithoi village in Devbhumi Dwarka district. She is one of the rare few who picked up textbooks after 22 long years and worked hard towards completing her 12th standard that too along with her daughter.

She had to drop out of school at a very young age due to her father’s poor financial condition. However, her daughter dropping out of school for the same reason left her truly disheartened. Nayara Energy’s Gramshikha project gave her much needed ray of hope. Both mother and daughter enrolled themselves for NIOS classes. Regular classes along with the support of the trainers helped them achieve their dream.

“We never thought that it would be possible. NIOS classes initiated by Nayara Energy, coupled with the support of the trainers helped us to realize what we thought was impossible to achieve.”

Today, Neetaba is mentoring other women in the community. Like her, many other women are emerging too and feeling empowered to lead a life that they only dreamt of.

Looking Ahead

In the future, we intend to make the region water-neutral, by meeting a water deficit of 44 million cubic meters that the region is plagued with. To bridge the gap, we have put in place a 10-year perspective plan, which enlists the specific steps that need to be undertaken to achieve water neutrality. In addition to the programmes mentioned above, steps are also being taken towards creating awareness not only about the judicious use of water, but also about newer irrigation technologies, and the cultivation of less water-intensive crops.

Our employees have shown an equal commitment to sustainable development initiatives by participating in the Captain Swachh programme. The Nayara Energy Employee Volunteering (NEEV) initiative strives to contribute significantly towards improving public sanitation awareness levels.

Currently, we are focussing our efforts on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. We are closely working with the State Government as well as local authorities like Jamnagar Municipal Corporation (JMC) to augment relief and preventive measures. We are providing food to vulnerable communities supporting  17,000 families across Jamnagar and Devbhumi Dwarka districts with groceries as well as providing cooked meals through community kitchens started in the region. Moreover, we are also providing personal protective equipment (PPEs), fumigation equipment and medical equipment to strengthen existing healthcare infrastructure in the region. Alongside this, we are supporting women from our communities by providing them livelihood opportunities to produce over 200,000 face masks to support the government’s fight against COVID-19. We provided raw materials and stitching machines to enable women to find livelihood opportunities while working from their homes and adhering to all government-mandated advisories. The revenue generated from the initiative will be deposited in the savings account of the women’s cooperative and profits will be distributed basis work done by each woman.

At Nayara Energy, our CSR initiatives have played a pivotal role in improving the quality of life of the communities, living in the vicinity of its operations. These programmes align with our CSR vision, to do what is right and rightful for the communities and the nation at large. We aspire to build a symbiotic relationship with its stakeholders to make them equal partners in the journey to achieving equitable development. Focused on shaping a better tomorrow,  driving inclusive growth and sustainability is at the heart of our CSR initiatives.

Anup Vikal is Chief Financial Officer, Nayara Energy.