India CSR News Network
NEW DELHI: The World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) is observed worldwide every year on 17June, to raise awareness about the threats and consequences of desertification and drought. The slogan for this year’s celebration is Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People.
Desertification is a complex phenomenon resulting from factors of physical, biological, socio-economic and cultural nature. Desertification is not confined to the desert areas or to the arid region, but relates to land degradation in about two-thirds of our country’s geographical area falling within the arid, semiarid and dry sub-humid regions.
Source: Degraded and Wastelands of India-Status and Spatial Distribution published by ICAR (2010).
Land degradation has a direct impact on land and other natural resources which results in reduced agricultural productivity, loss of bio-diversity and vegetative cover, decline in groundwater and availability of water in the affected regions. All these lead to a decline in the quality of life, eventually affecting the socio-economic status of the region.
The goal of the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) is not only to talk about the problems, but also the solutions. Cairn India Limited, the largest private oil and gas exploration and Production Company in India, identifies and understands the importance of long-term solutions to fight against desertification and land degradation in their operating sites in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
“We need a strong ethic of conservation and in this role, The World Day to Combat Desertification is a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled through strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels.” Sudhir Mathur, Acting CEO of Cairn India Ltd.
Sustainable initiatives against desertification
Cairn India has taken an ambitious long-term target of covering land equivalent to nearly 50% of the occupied area by indigenous trees. Starting from plantation of 147,900 mangrove plants in Ravva, Cairn India, till date has covered 43 acres with Mangroves in Ravva block in the eastern parts of the . In 2014-15 the total tree count (including mangroves) to nearly 3.42 million trees over 654 hectares of land.
Water, required at all stages of hydrocarbon exploration and production, is vital for drilling and well development. The geographic reality of Cairn India’s operating sites has demanded for a well-established water management plan.
Cairn’s fresh water needs at the production facilities in Rajasthan and Ravva are met by desalination of the saline water they abstract. “We recognize and respect the right of first use for accessible fresh water lies with the local community, thus our endeavor is to locate sources of water that are of no use to the communities and we utilize our considerable expertise in geological and sub-surface studies to locate such sources. We monitor the water sources closely every year so that we can know in advance any adverse changes that could occur due to our current water abstraction practices. Recycle and reuse of water is an important part of our water management strategy. Nearly 97% of all our produced water is reused as part of the injection water,” says Sudhir Mathur, Acting CEO of Cairn India Ltd.
Sustainable agricultural practices in arid region
Cairn India used water conservation structures such runoff management (RM) structures to help farmers maximize the benefits of precious rainwater and recharge groundwater, which can later be used for irrigation.
Given the region’s arid conditions, Cairn India’s Unnati project emphasizes training on water management techniques. The horticulture and agriculture program has been scaled up from 1,200 to 2,500 farmers by improving management of water using drip irrigation practices and increasing soil moisture retention through the use of khadins – specialized water harvesting structures. Cairn India have helped build 143 such structures over 250 hectares of land. 60% of this barren land has now been brought under cultivation. These interventions have allowed farmers to practice multi-cropping and grow cash crops such as vegetables and mushrooms.
Creating economic opportunities and alternative livelihoods
To make a positive difference in the lives of the local community, Cairn and Ravva JV has been actively involved in implementing projects in and around Ravva operational area. The Suraksha brooms making unit, started in December 2014 with 6 women as direct beneficiaries. Today, about 120 poor households from the project area are tied-up with this brooms unit as raw sticks suppliers. The Suraksha brooms and Suraksha Agarbatti making unit projects, help women sustain their socio-economic status in the community.
Cairn India’s Dairy Development Programme, has helped extend monetary benefits to villagers in the remote, desert district of Barmer. The dairy cooperative program has been expanded; an additional 1,000 households are now enrolled and milk collection has increased to 8881 litres per day. The project has helped women, who are the driving force of this programme, to save money, live a better life and help educate their children.