Dalmia Bharat Group – Going Beyond Mandated Targets to Give Back to Society 

0
20

Vishal Bhardwaj

As the expanding population puts pressure on natural resources, there is increasing strain on the land and environment, leading to depletion of water and other natural resources. To mitigate hardships of local communities while relieving environmental stress wherever, we, the Dalmia Bharat Group through the Dalmia Bharat Foundation (DBF) operate pan-India, have been undertaking various measures to help the people and the planet. The geographical footprint of our Foundation is spread across 23 locations across 14 States and reaches out to over ten lakh people in 1,300 villages.

Water plays a pivotal role in increasing land yields. The non-availability of timely and adequate water for irrigation is a serious impediment to achieving higher productivity and profitability. The farmers in our locations, especially in the Lalgudi Taluk, Trichy District of Tamil Nadu, and in Mylavaram Mandal, Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh and Ramdurg Taluk, Belgaum District of Karnataka, all face similar water woes.

Varied Initiatives

We work closely with communities around our manufacturing locations. Therefore, our CSR efforts focus sharply on livelihoods, climate action and building social infrastructure. These focus areas align with the MCA Guidelines on CSR, national priorities and schemes, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Soil and Water Conservation Programmes

Under Climate Action, our prime focus is on water harvesting and water conservation, mainly through projects such as Integrated Watershed Development (IWD).

Water plays a pivotal role in increasing land yields. The non-availability of timely and adequate water for irrigation is a serious impediment to achieving higher productivity and profitability. The farmers in our locations, especially in the Lalgudi Taluk, Trichy District of Tamil Nadu, and in Mylavaram Mandal, Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh and Ramdurg Taluk, Belgaum District of Karnataka, all face similar water woes.

Consider Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, which spans 15,000 km with around 65 per cent of its population in rural areas. The Government of India had declared Kadapa as one of India’s 250 most backward districts in 2006. Within Kadapa, our interventions are in areas declared drought-prone. Most villagers are small and marginal farmers. Their primary source of income is from rain-fed agriculture and rearing milch cattle. Both occupations need significant amounts of water for effective yields. Given the need for more water in the drought-prone location, we are scaling up water harvesting work in the region. This includes a farm pond project.

We are addressing the water scarcity issue via IWD projects in collaboration with NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), which are spread over five years.

Furthermore, in the last ten years, we are enabling the harvesting potential of more than 2900 crore litres of water annually. In addition, we help tribal households enhance their income through horticulture.

Since most of our CSR projects are concentrated in remote rural regions, we also assist local administrations and communities to fill existing infrastructural gaps. This helps in improving the quality of life of communities around our plants. We work both on water harvesting and water usage with neighbouring communities. We also aim at checking soil erosion with water harvesting and micro-irrigation projects.  

From Subsistence Farming to an Agri-Entrepreneur
Illuri Venketa Reddy

Living in Peddakomerala village in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh is a family of four headed by Illuri Venkata Reddy. Illuri is a small farmer owning four acres of land. Despite having a tube well, his land had been largely rain-fed as the water table had receded more than 250 feet below ground level because of a lack of water conservation practices. He grew cotton and Bengal gram, but the harvest was barely enough to earn a living to feed his family. Despite owning the land, he had no choice but to find work as a labourer to meet his family’s needs.

In 2017, Dalmia Bharat Foundation and NABARD jointly picked up a watershed project, which also incidentally encompassed Peddakomerala village. As part of the project, they constructed a check dam and check wall upstream of his land, coupled with a farm pond with a water harvesting capacity of 800 m3. It was a turning point for Illuri. He saw an improvement in the soil moisture and an increase in the water table. Supplemented by good rain last year, his defunct tube well is functional once again, and he can irrigate his crop. Expectedly, his annual income from agriculture has increased two-and-a-half times over the previous year. The mere availability of water did not make Illuri complacent. He sought DBF’s assistance to avail government subsidy to set up drip irrigation on 2.5 acres of his land. Apart from cotton, he has now diversified to cash crops like chillies with these water management practices. He now expects his income to grow further.

Illuri Venkata Rao has transformed his destiny. He is now a shareholder of the local farmers’ producer company. He now pursues agriculture as an entrepreneur and is an inspiration to hundreds of other farmers in the vicinity. 

Water Harvesting in Drought-Prone Kadapa

One of the best cases is a Public-Private People’s Partnership project for water harvesting in drought-prone Mylavaram Tehsil in District Kadapa of Andhra Pradesh to improve the livelihood of locals.

Kadapa District has been declared drought-hit twice in the last few years. The vagaries of water availability create a crisis for agriculture, human and cattle consumption. With groundwater reserves being out of reach for most villagers, agriculture is rain-fed. Water scarcity makes cattle rearing challenging, threatening their survival and impacting milk yields and productivity.

   Before                                                                                                 After

To address this issue, we explored opportunities for building farm ponds to act as a catalyst in storing rainwater for productive use in agriculture, for milch animals to meet drinking water needs and recharge the groundwater table. We met local officials to set up partnerships to accelerate our work. Together, we made a plan for creating farm ponds through MNREGS. We were advised to play the role of a facilitator in identifying areas for the creation of farm ponds for both rainwater storage and recharging groundwater reserves.

Outcome

  • 175 ponds with a total capacity of 1.85 lakh m3 were created
  • One check dam and one causeway constructed, with a total capacity of 50,000m3
  • Employment opportunities worth Rs 155 lakhs were created for the local community via this project.

Thanks to the above, we achieved the following:

  • Rise in annual income of Rs. 6000-7000/- per family
  • 50 acres of land now irrigated mainly for fodder cultivation
  • Increase of 2 to 3 litres of milk reported by members of the Dairy FPO (Farmer Producer Organisation)
  • No depletion in the water table in the catchment area of these structures reported recently.

The challenge concerning energy is not only an industrial issue but one that affects the rural population too – be it depleting fuelwood resources for cooking or erratic power supply at homes. For rural people, this is a daily challenge. Alongside this, these people face health and environmental challenges with smoke emanating from millions of wood-burning chulhas (stoves). Moreover, energy conservation is equally important to mitigate climate change and its consequences.

Promoting Sustainable, Clean Energy 

Apart from water, we promote access to solar energy for domestic plus agricultural purposes and access to cleaner fuels for cooking.

The challenge concerning energy is not only an industrial issue but one that affects the rural population too – be it depleting fuelwood resources for cooking or erratic power supply at homes. For rural people, this is a daily challenge. Alongside this, these people face health and environmental challenges with smoke emanating from millions of wood-burning chulhas (stoves). Moreover, energy conservation is equally important to mitigate climate change and its consequences.

Burning fuels such as coal, oil and biomass remain the principal energy source in rural and traditional sectors, contributing to a third of India’s energy. The incomplete combustion of biomass is one of the main sources of indoor air pollution, which directly and indirectly contributes to greenhouse gases.

We address these challenges in a multi-pronged manner, with non-conventional and renewable energy as one of our important pillars. We also promote dung-based biogas plants. We took all these steps to reduce emissions from greenhouse gases and help India move towards becoming a low-carbon society.

As of March 31, 2021, more than 52,000 students have benefitted from solar products and can study comfortably in the evening. Additionally, 314 clean lighting solutions have been installed and promoted in 2020-21.

Our energy conservation and climate change initiatives work to address energy needs sustainably via renewable resources. We work closely with local communities to change mindsets and replace traditional energy sources with clean energy, clean cooking and clean lighting.

Solar energy solutions comprise a considerable quantum of our work, with solar off-grid products such as solar lanterns, solar home lighting systems, solar study lamps, solar streetlights and solar pumps promoted across our intervention areas. In Meghalaya, we ran awareness campaigns on the UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs) programme, making people aware of the scheme.

As of March 31, 2021, more than 52,000 students have benefitted from solar products and can study comfortably in the evening. Additionally, 314 clean lighting solutions have been installed and promoted in 2020-21.

Doubling a Farmer’s Income via Knowledge Sharing
Nallaswamy

Nallaswamy lives in Keelarasur Village of Pullambadi Block in Trichy District of Tamil Nadu. He owns five acres of land and has an open well for irrigation. Due to a lack of resources, he could only irrigate one-fifth of his land to cultivate chillies. Since the remaining four acres are fully rain-fed, he opted for less remunerative crops such as cotton and maize.

The income was insufficient for his family of five. Failed rains often forced him to do menial jobs as a daily wager. Fortunately, Nallaswamy attended DBF’s community meeting held in his village, informing small and marginal farmers about an irrigation project of the Government of Tamil Nadu based on solar pumping. The scheme offered Rs 2.85 Lakh subsidy to eligible farmers. Nallaswamy sought DBF’s help to avail of this scheme.

We helped complete all formalities and followed up with the State Government to ensure early approval of his case. Soon after, Nallaswamy was able to install a 5 HP solar-powered irrigation pump at his well. It was a game-changer. Able to irrigate his entire field, Nallaswamy migrated to more rewarding crops such as onion and sugarcane, the latter grown through drip irrigation.

His income rising 200 per cent, an elated Nallaswamy says, “Solar-powered irrigation has led to productive use of my entire field. Drip irrigation has helped conserve water and ensured a significant increase in yields as well. I thank Dalmia Bharat Foundation for helping me achieve this.”

At Dalmia Bharat Group, we have been fulfilling social responsibilities for more than eight decades. We have always believed in giving back to society, which has, in turn, created an opportunity for us to operate our business. Accordingly, we work in a most structured manner to usher positive change in people’s lives and lifestyles. As a result, we typically go beyond compliance obligations to fulfil our objectives. 

Livelihood

This is our flagship project with a focus to skill the community in farm and non-farm trades and to develop human capital in terms of Self Help Groups (SHGs), Joint Liability Groups (JLGs), Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), etc., to improve the livelihood, and thus, the income of the community. Our primary objective is to impart skill training to youth to make them employable through our Skill Training Centres. There are 11 Dalmia Institute of Knowledge and Skill Training Harnessing (DIKSHa) centres, with the capacity to train 5000 youth every year. Besides, we run three Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). Working closely with farmers, we help them increase their income via improved farming practices and by developing their social and natural capital.

Highlights 

  • 5,000 + trainees completed training in DIKSHa
  • More than 10,000 women collectivised into 1178 Self Help Groups to explore livelihood opportunities
  • 2,895 crore litres of water harvesting capacity created
  • 2,140 acres land brought under micro-irrigation
  • 1,401 water-harvesting structures built
  • 20 per cent increase in crop yields
  • 15 per cent average increase in income
  • 145 clean cooking villages
  • 161 clean lighting villages, wherein no kerosene is used for lighting
  • 27,000 solar household lighting solutions and 533 solar streetlights
  • 11,758 clean cooking solutions
  • 67,972 tons of CO₂ emissions reduced

Way Forward 

At Dalmia Bharat Group, we have been fulfilling social responsibilities for more than eight decades. We have always believed in giving back to society, which has, in turn, created an opportunity for us to operate our business. Accordingly, we work in a most structured manner to usher positive change in people’s lives and lifestyles. As a result, we typically go beyond compliance obligations to fulfil our objectives. 

Our CSR focus areas are clearly defined and implemented through well-planned projects. There is a laid CSR Roadmap, with goals for each focus area laid out till 2030.

Vishal Bhardwaj is Group Head – CSR, Dalmia Bharat Group and CEO – Dalmia Bharat Foundation.