* Scales up PPP model to ensure water security for stakeholders
ITC Limited, one of India’s leading multi-business conglomerates and a global exemplar in sustainability, has entered into a partnership with the Government of Karnataka to execute a Watershed Development Programme, covering over 1 million acres and 100 watersheds in across the state.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between ITC’s Social Investments programme, Mission Sunehra Kal,and the Karnataka Watershed Development Department on 5th March, 2021 will be in effect for three years. The agreement is part of the state government’s “Watershed Development for Drought Proofing” programme which aims at covering 1.16-million acres of watershed area in 29 districts.
Focusing on capacity enhancement of government officials involved in the project, ITC will create a consortium of experts to train the team to apply the Company’s drought proofing framework for planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme. While ITC will contribute towards meeting the cost of experts, training, capacity building and value addition for drought proofing, the government will bear the cost of the drought proofing activities. A project management committee, with the Commissioner of the Watershed Development Department as Chairperson and ITC as Convenor, will oversee the functioning of the project.
This recent MOU is a part of ITC’s Sustainability 2.0 agenda which encompasses forging meaningful public-private-people partnerships that synergise individual sector expertise to amplify impact and reach. ITC’s Sustainability 2.0 initiatives also aim at building climate resilience of farmers by ensuring water security. ITC’s largescale Water Stewardship initiativeaims at ensuring water security in the country through a combination of demand-side and supply-side interventions. Its Integrated Watershed Development initiative cumulatively covers over 1.1 million acres in 37 districts in 14 states. Nearly 20,400 rainwater harvesting structures have created potential freshwater storage of 3.68 million kilolitres, which is over 3 times the net water consumed by ITC’s operations. To enable rapid scaling up of its programmes, ITC has also entered into 44 Public-private-people partnerships in watershed development with various governments and NABARD. ITC’s interventions to promote water use efficiency in agriculture has led to water savings of 20% to 45% in crops like wheat, rice, sugarcane and banana in a short period of time.
Karnataka is a pioneer state in watershed development in India. The Govt of Karnataka launched the programme “Watershed development for Drought Proofing” in 100 drought-hit and low groundwater taluks by covering an area of 1.16 million acres in the state using Land Resource Inventory (LRI) and it's precision farming recommendations.
Dr. Venkatesh M.V, Commissioner, Watershed Development Department, Government of Karnataka stated – “ITC Ltd through its CSR Programmes is implementing Watershed development programmes in many parts of the country in general and Karnataka in particular. We felt that they can add value to the programme, so partnered with ITC Ltd who will do trainings on drought-proofing & support for the programme Implementation. This would be a unique Public-private partnership in the state for watershed development”.
Commenting on the partnership, Dr Ashesh Ambasta, Executive Vice President & Head Social Investments, ITC Limited said: “For years, ITC has been at the forefront of water stewardship programmes in India and our efforts have been focussed on scaling up integrated watershed development projects across different states. Our initiatives are aligned with Government missions like Jal Shakti Abhiyan and More Crop Per Drop. It is a matter of immense satisfaction to be able to partner the State Government of Karnataka. We are delighted to be able to support the Government in its laudable endeavour to tackle water stress.”