BPCL’s flagship CSR project ‘BOOND’ was awarded SKOCH Silver Award for Leadership in Oil and Gas Sector. This award was presented in Oil & Gas Summit organized by SKOCH Group on 6th December 2018 in Constitution Club of India, New Delhi. BPCL’s Project BOOND was selected for its sustainability relevance and sound implementation process.
BPCL has also been awarded the Winner of 2014 World Petroleum Council’s “Excellence Awards for Social Responsibility” for Project BOOND in 2014.
Since 2010, BPCL has transformed 280 villages from being water scarce to water positive dwellings through Project BOOND.
Every drop of water is precious
"If there is magic on this planet it is contained in water. We only know the worth of water when wells run dry."
Water scarcity in India has grabbed headlines for decades now. The situation is so severe that thousands of people in our country still do not have access to basic drinking water. India has about 18% of the world’s population as compared to only 4 per cent of its water resources available for consumption. The lack of water availability and poor management practices have manifested in unhygienic sanitation facilities which is one of the biggest environmental and social challenges that India faces today. (UN REPORT).
Recognizing the severity of this daily battle being fought by thousands of people living in rural and urban India, BPCL has over the years committed itself to this cause and supported projects to arrest this problem. When we started, we focused on 'drinking-water' - introducing projects that would facilitate conservation of water for drinking purposes. However, we have gradually evolved our strategy to include projects and practices which are aimed at increasing availability of water for agriculture, livestock and ground water recharge, all of which assume importance as we continue to use bore-wells which results in the depletion of ground water.
In Southern India (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka), it has been observed that tank cascades, bore-wells and local ponds which are important sources for irrigation and significant to the rural economy and local ecosystem of areas have become redundant due to negligence. The ground water is depleting and lack of maintenance of traditional harvesting systems such as tank cascades has severely affected its storage capacity. In view of this critical situation, we collaborated with an established organisation to preserve, manage and maintain 'tank cascades' and also revive farm ponds.
'Water - Scarce to Water - Positive'
We have been successful in bringing together farmers to revive tanks in some parts of Kolar, Tumkur and Ramanagara districts in Karnataka and Tuticorin district in Tamil Nadu which were experiencing the problem of reducing water storing capacity of existing tanks and causing insufficient water for cops even under good rainfall years. This was mainly because of the siltation in the tanks over a period of time. The tanks built previously were not functioning to their full efficiency because of poor management and maintenance. To solve this problem, BPCL contributed towards institutionalizing the restoration, management and maintenance of such vital traditional structures and creating smaller water harvesting structures for a better future. From 2014 to 2019, through the 5-year projects Agricultural Livelihood Development through Conservation and Development of Small-Scale Water Bodies in Kolar and Ramanagara districts of Karnataka, and Livelihood Enhancement through Natural Resources Conservation and Development in Tuticorin District, and by the efforts of the farmers, we were able to achieve the following:
In Kolar and Ramanagara, activities related to agricultural demonstration, fish rearing, tank silt application and vermicomposting pits were undertaken. In Tuticorin, there were activities related to land levelling, agricultural interventions, crop insurance, life insurance, etc. 33 roof water harvesting structures were constructed.
119 farm ponds were established which enabled farmers to now produce higher income generating crops such as vegetables and fodder crops for their livestock.
41 water tanks were renovated and some new ones constructed to enhance water storage capacity.
77 Mini Percolation Tanks (MPT) were constructed according to the need of the farmers and suitability of site.
The recharged tanks also brought increased revenue through fishery and organic farming. Overall through this project, BPCL was able to create a significant difference in the lives of beneficiaries with positive impacts on livelihood generation, groundwater recharge, soil erosion control and food security.
Mokhada in Thane district of Maharashtra which suffers from acute water shortage during summer is another region where introduced projects focused on conserving water. While this area records a very high rainfall, the extreme slopes and geological conditions results in high runoff, leading to water scarcity. The area is also notorious for deaths due to malnourishment and high unemployment rates. Moreover, as agriculture in this area is largely rain-fed, landholders can only practice subsistence farming in the kharif season, leading to large-scale migration in the non-monsoon period. It also results in women's drudgery as they have to travel long distances to fetch water amongst other things.
Thus, with the objective of reducing migration, promote agriculture and to mitigate the water related difficulties and challenges faced by the locals, we undertook project BOOND AkshayJal II for three years from 2013 to 2016 to build rainwater harvesting structures, promote irrigation projects and other sustainable livelihood activities such as horticulture, floriculture, vegetable farming, tree plantation and agriculture.
The Group Farming and Collective Marketing model was extremely successful. In the first year itself, the farmers group was able to produce 7 tons of Okra which was exported to UK markets (London). In addition to that, the Drip irrigation Project was adopted by farmers in the Mokhada region and this led to increased water conservation and increased crop yield. When earlier it used to take 10-12 hours of continuous water supply to irrigate the field, now it has been reduced to mere 20 minutes. We have also educated the farmers about different farming practices and also assisted them in adopting it. Due to these projects, not only do the farmers and their families have to travel less distances for water, it has even reduced their dependency on water tankers.
Built indigenous rainwater harvesting structures, concrete bunds, spring cordoning and repaired existing wells
Promoted other sustainable livelihood activities such as horticulture, floriculture and agriculture
Reduced migration of youth to urban India
Under Project BOOND – Neer, we have also supported several rain-water harvesting projects in Bharatpur, in the state of Rajasthan, which has a history of droughts and floods. The extreme weather conditions and limited rainfall has made this region arid. It has also affected its economy which is largely dependent on agriculture. Our projects have been able to increase water retention period in wells, hand pumps and soil moisture retention around Bunds. It has also made irrigation of wheat and mustard more convenient, as less water is required from bore wells. Since 2013, activities such as watershed development, training programs for farmer groups, self-help groups, farmer training organic agriculture, etc. have also been undertaken in the Bharatpur region of Rajasthan.
Moreover, we have also been successful in restoring the flora and fauna of this region. There is an increase in green cover around the water canal, accompanied by an increase in frequency of sighting bio-indicator group of organisms like butterflies around the local ecological setup.
All our BOOND projects demand sustainability; in order to ensure that all the projects that we have undertaken are sustainable, we made 'community participation' at all levels an integral part of our projects. The community was encouraged to participate in the planning, implementation and maintenance of proposed drinking water and irrigation structures. To further their involvement in the projects, we also motivated them to contribute 15-25% of the expenses so that they become more responsible and assume its ownership. It also contributes to the community themselves where they adopt additional skills in the process of contributing to the projects.
Community contribution increases the commitment from the community, motivates them, thus developing a long-term sustenance for the projects. Several committees such as Village Water Committees, Women's Self-Help Group, Farmers' group and Children Water Clubs were also formed to educate and empower participants. This made it an organized effort, where all members of the community are focused and work towards a particular goal. Lastly, we also held sessions for capacity building of these community groups. These sessions equipped them with skills required to maintain and monitor the projects independently. The process of involving the community, encouraging them to make a financial contribution, organizing the community into work groups for focused effort and building their capacities to achieve the desired goal has led to formulate an effective foundation for us to step out of the areas once we make the community self-reliant.