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Companies go green with CSR
The Sunday Guardian - 21 Apr 2013

Corporates are celebrating World Earth Day 2013 by taking various  eco-friendly CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives in India.  According to the latest round of the Nielsen Corporate Image Monitor (NCIM),  tobacco, FMCG and hospitality giant ITC gained the top spot in the CSR segment.

Y.C. Deveshwar, chairman of ITC, says, "Corporates, on their part,  are uniquely placed to play a constructive role in the process. Positioned, as  they are, in the frontline of engagement with civil society, corporates have  the wherewithal, including the more crucial managerial resources, to deliver  social projects efficiently at a lower incremental cost." ITC has been  known for its unique sustainability initiatives over the years. The company has  crafted various business environment friendly business models.

The e-choupal initiative by ITC has been globally acknowledged and has  raised rural incomes considerably. In this, the company provides small and  marginal farmers access to information about market prices, weather and other  relevant information, which can help them improve their produce and incomes.  Further, the social and farm forestry initiatives by this company allowed many  farmers to use their wastelands for pulpwood plantation, thereby giving both  the ITC Paperboards business and themselves a boost. This initiative received  an award at the Rio+20 UN summit. Apart from these, ITC also has watershed  projects, animal husbandry services, women empowerment programmes and community  development programmes. All of its premium luxury hotels have been given the  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification,  making it the greenest luxury hotel chain in the world. The ITC Grand Chola, in  Chennai, is the world's largest LEED platinum certified hotel.

Environment friendly CSR initiatives are popular amongst other firms as  well. Cognizant, one of the top IT firms in the country have announced a Go  Green program for this year's Earth Day. Speaking about the program, Premkumar  Pandurangam, Director - Corporate Sustainability for Cognizant says, "We  would be organising clean-up drives, promoting e-waste recycling, doing our bit  to nurture green cover by watering plants (an initiative that will continue  throughout the summer months), and conducting green lifestyle workshops and  green-themed quizzes, debates and oratory contests across Cognizant." In  addition, the company will also be hosting an event starting on Earth Day and  ending on World Environment Day on 5 June.

Cognizant focuses its efforts mainly on energy and carbon emissions.  According to Pandurangam, the company has successfully reduced their per capita  energy consumption by 47%. In addition, they have employed telepresence systems  across their offices so that executives have to travel less for their meetings,  meaning less carbon emissions from automobiles. They have achieved a 32%  reduction in their per capita carbon emissions. Further, to reduce the usage of  paper Cognizant has employed paperless business processes, which helped them to  reduce the per capita paper usage to 60%.

In the electronics and engineering sector, Germany based veteran Siemens  has implemented various energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning  solutions in their offices. These solutions include replacing chilled water  pumps with new energy-efficient pumps, installing variable frequency drives for  chiller pumps and air-handling units and many others. In addition, the company  has two state-of-the-art factories, which began operations in Goa in January  2012 and received LEED certifications for their green building measures.

It also maintains sewage treatment plants in all of its factory  locations. The treated water from these plants is used for flushing and  gardening. In 2011-12, Siemens announced their Project Asha, which was a  integrated sustainable development project aimed at providing electricity,  drinking water, irrigation support, adult education, health awareness and  livelihood support to a remote village known as Amle village in Thane, Mumbai.  The company is also responsible for the Sanjeevan mobile clinics, which delivers  a sustainable self-sufficient solution for healthcare in rural areas.

Eco-friendly measures aren't popular only amongst the big corporate  houses either. A unique energy management initiative has also been employed by  Indian departmental store chain Shoppers Stop. The company's store in Andheri,  Mumbai has been fitted with solar panels for its energy requirements. These  solar panels generate 30 KW of energy and power the entire second floor of the  store. Blossom Kochhar Beauty Products, which specialises in oils and cosmetic  products based on concepts of aromatherapy, has announced their "Forests  for Future" initiative, which will begin on this Earth Day. The company  will be handing over 50 saplings to an NGO called Give Me Trees Trust every  month.

According to the latest round of the Nielsen Corporate Image Monitor,  ITC tops the charts in CSR measures.

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