Conservation by intelligent design
As part of its sustainability initiative, Tata Chemicals Limited's (TCL) comprehensive Dharti ko Arpan programme includes the restoration and conservation of coastal ecosystems and the conservation of endangered species
Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL) owns and operates its chemical plant at Mithapur in Saurashtra region of Gujarat state in India and is involved in large scale production of salt, soda ash and other marine chemicals. One of the biggest challenges being faced by TCL is to combine sustaining a high growth rate with improving the lives of the poor and marginalised communities around whilst not compromising on environmental conservation and restoration. Hence, TCL embarked on a comprehensive regional development programme to address this fundamental issue. The initiatives under the regional development programme include natural resource management, biodiversity and nature conservation, women’s empowerment, income generation and livelihood skills development, health, education, infrastructure development, etc. These programmes have earned the company goodwill and the confidence to make a difference through working with stakeholders.
TCL has taken-up a comprehensive initiative known as ‘Dharti Ko Arpan” programme under the umbrella of sustainability which aims at the restoration and conservation of coastal ecosystems, as well as the protection of some endangered species. The overall objectives of the ‘Dharti Ko Arpan’ programme are:
- Integration of initiatives for conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity.
- To promote stewardship among local coastal communities for conservation and environmental leadership.
- To provide a platform for knowledge exchange and dissemination of best practices on conservation and management of coastal and marine ecosystems.
- To demonstrate TCL’s proactive response to biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.
- To showcase innovative business solutions.
By and large, the conservation initiatives under the ‘Dharti Ko Arpan’ programme have been successful and have achieved the desired results. It has helped TCL forge partnerships with state agencies including the Gujarat State Forest Dept., institutes of excellence such as the Wildlife Trust of India and eminent international organisations such as the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) and the MFF (Mangroves for Future). Given below are details of the various interventions initiated by TCL under the ‘Dharti Ko Arpan’ programme:
Save the whale shark project
The whale shark is the largest fish in the world and was once slaughtered along the Gujarat coast in large numbers for its oil and meat. This led to a steep decline in its population and hence, it was declared an endangered species in 2001.
Mithapur coral reef restoration project
Save the Asiatic lion project
Biodiversity plantation project
Prakruti ECO club programme
The Prakruti ECO club programme is an integrated initiative by TCL to create conservation awareness and encourage participatory approach between the corporate, community, and other stakeholders for the conservation of local biodiversity.
Waterfowl conservation at Charakla saltworks
With the rapid loss of wetlands, both inland and coastal, some micro-habitats like the industrial salt works have become important alternative habitats for waterfowl, as is evident from the birdlife at Charakla saltworks.