This is how ITC is bringing waves of change with water stewardship

March 22, 2024

Water scarcity has emerged as a critical challenge across the globe, exacerbated by the threat of climate change. Around half of the world's population, ~4 billion people, faces severe water shortage for at least a month a year. India, home to 18% of global population, has only 4% of its freshwater resources. 54% of India is water-stressed. 30 Indian cities face water risk by 2050. Groundwater resources, accounting for 40% of water supply, are getting depleted rapidly. As we all are aware, water is the lifeline of Indian agriculture with 78% of our freshwater being consumed by this sector.

The theme for World Water Day this year, 'Water for Peace', is apt as access to clean water is essential for fostering peace and stability. The UN estimates 700 million people could be displaced by water scarcity by 2030, which could potentially lead to conflicts.

It's imperative that collective efforts are made to ensure a sustainable supply of water. To address this challenge, ITC has for 2 decades, implemented scalable solutions for water stewardship. Our approach is three-fold: focusing on water replenishment and conservation through watershed development, reducing water use in farming and making our operations more water efficient. We've taken a holistic approach to ensure water security for everyone involved, from farmers in our supply chains to communities near our factories. Our efforts align closely with national initiatives like the Jal Shakti Abhiyan and National Water Mission.

Through our community-led Watershed Development programme, we support small farmers and have formed water user groups to manage local water resources. The programme has covered over 1.5 million acres in 50 districts of 16 states, benefiting over 4.4 lakh people. We work to rejuvenate river basins with negative water balance. Our success in the Ghod river basin area, which turned water positive in just 5 years, has inspired us to expand the project to 4 other river basins. We also help farmers use water more efficiently through techniques like micro-irrigation, resulting with water savings of 20-45% across 15 crops. It is satisfying that our efforts have been recognized globally with AWS Platinum certification for 6 of our units.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to water stewardship and will continue on this journey. We've set ambitious goals for 2030 - creating rainwater harvesting potential 5 times our net consumption, AWS Platinum certification for all sites located in high water-stress and improving crop water-use efficiency to save 2000 million kl.

Witness the transformative power of water through a poignant film narrated by veteran journalist Neelesh Misra, set in Bhaukhedi village, Sehore, Madhya Pradesh, and see how waves of hope and prosperity flowed in, one ripple at a time, with aid from ITC's initiatives.

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