Mumbai: On the International Day of Biological Diversity, Vedanta Aluminium, India’s largest producer of aluminium, announces that it is intensifying efforts toward nurturing biodiversity in the areas of its operations in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, as part of its sustainable development agenda. The company has embarked on conservation projects for indigenous bird species that include constructing birdhouses, artificial nests, and birdbaths at multiple locations inside its plants and townships. Supplementing this effort, its Business Units are developing fruit orchards and gardens with medicinal plants, reviving butterfly parks, and undertaking a slew of other initiatives. The day also saw Vedanta Aluminium’s employees kick off the annual cleaning of local water bodies and community ponds, by volunteering for the activity.
Vedanta Aluminium’s operation at Lanjigarh, in the Kalahandi district of Odisha, is located in a richly biodiverse region. More than 380 faunal and 940 floral species have been recorded in the core (inside plant area) and buffer (up to 10 kilometres from the plant) zones, including native and migratory birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, macrophytes (large aquatic plants), medicinal plants, and more. The region also supports 26 floral and faunal species of conservation interest, identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Similarly, Vedanta Aluminium’s operations in Jharsuguda (Odisha) are home to nearly 30 native species of trees and plants, while some Schedule I fauna species like Elephant, Sloth Bear, Indian Rock Python, Common Indian Monitor and Pea Fowl also inhabit the region. BALCO, Vedanta’s subsidiary based in Korba (Chhattisgarh), is also surrounded by rich flora and fauna, recording over 20 species of flora, 30 species of butterflies, 11 species of invertebrates, 72 species of birds and 18 species of mammals.
Nurturing biodiversity is a critical pillar of Vedanta Aluminium’s approach to ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) excellence for sustainable development. Environment sustainability encompasses water conservation, waste management, air quality control, and climate action. Towards this end, the company also undertakes extensive annual plantation drives, deep cleaning of ponds and local aquatic bodies in the summers so they can be naturally recharged and rejuvenated during monsoons, and reclamation and rehabilitation of mined-out areas/abandoned quarries, while also working towards water positivity and carbon neutrality.
Speaking about the company’s approach to biodiversity conservation, Rahul Sharma, CEO – of Aluminium Business, Vedanta Limited, said, “At Vedanta Aluminium, our passion for nurturing the vibrant ecosystem in our locations is bolstered by a robust Biodiversity Policy & Management Standard in line with global standards. Each of our business units has developed a Biodiversity Management Plan, about the unique ecosystem, flora and fauna of their respective sites. Starting with bird conservation, we have some more interesting projects in the works. With these, we aim to add to the bio-richness of the regions where we operate.”
As testimony to Vedanta Aluminium’s biodiversity management efforts, in 2019, its Bodai Daldali bauxite mine in Chhattisgarh was ranked among the Top 6 mines out of a total of 180 mines assessed across the globe on sustainability practices by the Responsible Mining Index Foundation. The company has rehabilitated the mined-out area with millions of native and fruit-bearing trees, built ponds/water reservoirs for groundwater recharge, and check dams to stop run-off. This area has since then been identified with numerous bird species, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and butterflies.