ITC’s 360 degrees water stewardship programme is in alignment with the government’s key water initiatives. Driven by the Sustainability 2.0 goals articulated by its chairman, Sanjiv Puri, ITC is scaling up its interventions in replenishing water resources and water usage efficiency. It has also embarked on a programme to achieve water positive status at river basin level with focus on four basins across the country. The Ghod river basin has already turned water positive last year.
The company has also partnered the government in creating large-scale awareness on the need for equitable water management by participating in the ongoing India Water Week 2022. In recognition of its efforts in ensuring water security for all stakeholders, ITC also received the first prize in the best industry for CSR activities category at the third National Water Awards by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, government of India in 2021-22.
Over 54% of India is water stressed. Agriculture which forms the lifeline of the Indian economy is vulnerable to the threat of climate change. Recognising the critical need to address this challenge, ITC has taken a three-fold approach to drive water security for its stakeholders and contribute to achieving the national goal of securing a sustainable water future for India.
The three-pronged approach that cognises the varied climatic zones and rain patterns in the country involves, one, a large-scale community based integrated watershed development initiative covering catchment treatment, water harvesting structures development, and groundwater recharge spread over 13 lakh acres in 16 states with over 25,000 water harvesting structures built and another 1.33 lakh acres under biodiversity conservation, two, a unique demand side water management programme that focuses on improving water use efficiency of agriculture with the demonstrated achievement of water savings in the range of 20-45% across select crops and a total savings potential of 496 million cubic metres during 2021-22; and three, maximising water efficiency across all its operations.
Owing to its 360-degree water stewardship initiatives, ITC has earned the distinction of being the only global company of comparable dimensions to be water positive for over two decades. ITCs Paperboards & Specialty Papers unit at Kovai is only the second facility in the world and the first in India to be awarded the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS)’s Platinum level certification — the highest recognition for water stewardship in the world. Going forward, the company aspires to create rainwater harvesting potential equivalent to over five times the net water consumption by 2030 as a part of its Sustainability 2.0 targets. ITC is in the process of implementing the AWS Standards at its units in high water stress areas and will progressively obtain AWS certification for these sites by 2035.
Providing equal focus on achieving water efficiency within the fence, all ITC units are mandated to implement action plans to work towards reducing net water consumption, maximising rainwater harvesting and achieving zero effluent discharge through technology upgradation, advanced processes, stringent audits and international benchmarking.
S Sivakumar, group head, sustainability, agri and IT business, ITC Ltd said “Inspired by our credo of Nation first, sab saath badhein, ITC is committed to partnering with the government in its journey to secure a sustainable and equitable water future for all. Having implemented a 360-degrees water stewardship initiative with the help of community participation for over two decades, we have now embarked on a bolder water mission under our Sustainability 2.0 agenda that envisages scaling up our interventions manifold and setting ambitious targets both inside and outside the fence, whilst supporting large-scale sustainable livelihoods. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Government for organising the India Water Week 2022, which will go a long way in creating larger awareness and engendering action on the critical need for water sustainability.”