ONGC leads CSR spend among oil PSUs

by | Nov 26, 2019 | Sustainability

ONGC led the tally with a CSR spend of Rs 615 crore in 2018–19, recording a growth of 22% in the spend as compared to the spend of Rs 503 crore in 2017–18.
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Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan in a written reply in the Lok Sabha has provided the corporate social responsibility (CSR) expenditure details of Oil PSUs for the last three years. ONGC continues to lead the tally with a CSR spend of Rs 615 crore in 2018–19, recording a growth of 22% in the spend when compared to the spend of Rs 503 crore in 2017–18.

Oil PSUs have been undertaking CSR interventions around their work centers, earmarking 2% of their profits for CSR projects. CSR activities are undertaken under the heads identified under Schedule VII of the Companies Act 2013 with special focus on health (nutrition, sanitation, and drinking water), education, skill development, rural development, women empowerment, environment centric initiatives and care for the elderly and differently abled persons.

The CSR expenditure made by following Oil PSUs during the last three years are given below:

All figures are in Rs crore.

The project / activities wise details of the funds allocated and spent on the development and other works in various districts of the country including in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and on water recharge and water harvesting in Gujarat during the last 3 years are available on the respective websites of the Oil PSUs.

CSR activities are undertaken by Oil PSUs themselves or through agencies/Departments of Central/State Governments as per their approved procedures.

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Here’s how 5G could be a catalyst for IIoT and Industry 4.0

Here’s how 5G could be a catalyst for IIoT and Industry 4.0

Over the last few years, the industrial internet of things (IIoT), as a key constituent of Industry 4.0, has gained much ground, transforming how businesses manage their manufacturing operations. IIoT includes several advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and blockchain to help enterprises move towards lean manufacturing and automated processes. Now, with the advent of 5G, the potential of IIoT could be harnessed even better.

5G has so far largely garnered attention in the consumer market. However, the capabilities of 5G are increasingly recognized in various business markets. There has been a greater push from organizations as well to democratize the availability of digital, especially in the wake of COVID-19 related disruptions.

With reduced latency and blazing speed, the fifth generation of wireless technology has an enormous potential to bring agility, speed, and mobility to many conventional strategies in areas such as predictive maintenance, demand forecasting, and anomaly detection. (See: Telcos eying the edge opportunity for 5G growth)

Need for reliable power

The majority of IIoT use cases are currently based on wired connections, which are insufficient to address manufacturers’ various sensitivities. The quality and dependability of connectivity determine the success of any implementation. Modern production units primarily use Wi-Fi technology to support IoT connectivity, which consumes a lot of power and relies heavily on stable wired connections for backhaul and data offloading. There are limitations to the legacy networks that affect the scaling-up of the manufacturer’s digital transformation goals.

For instance, large-scale IoT transformations cannot be entirely dependent on Wi-Fi. Even cellular technologies such as 2G/3G and LTE are either slow, have latency issues, or use large amounts of energy to support IIoT. This is where a technology such as 5G could be a gamechanger!

When propelled with 5G speed and AI-based analytics, manufacturers can predict problems, analyze them in real-time, and minimize production downtime.

5G enables manufacturers to build high-precision assembly lines where all IoT devices and robotic processes could be perfectly in sync with each other, on a real-time basis. According to Wipro, one of India’s top IT Services firms, due to the high capacity, wireless flexibility and low-latency performance of 5G, IIoT deployments in the manufacturing segment stand to gain considerably. 5G has the potential to enable high-speed connectivity without the cost and complexity of fiber optic cables. And this makes 5G a natural choice for high precision manufacturing environments.

In addition to providing a robust network, 5G’s built-in security features can also help manufacturers integrate covered layers into the basic network architecture and ward off security issues if any.

Not without challenges

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson, while agreeing with the superior capabilities of 5G to support different manufacturing use case, raises a pertinent challenge of a disconnect between three perspectives among manufacturers: the understanding of cellular capabilities, how they enable different digital solutions, and finally how these solutions address manufacturers’ actual pain points.

Besides bandwidth, the other major challenges that any IIoT deployment faces is interoperability, lack of compliance on the part of IoT manufacturers, and limited user awareness. In 2021, as we see 5G rollouts expanding in major countries, telcos worldwide would explore various collaboration routes to address the above-listed issues as well.

Globally, mobile network operators such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Sierra Wireless, China Mobile, Verizon have been collaborating with manufacturers to test and showcase 5G capabilities for IIoT manufacturing and improve the overall factory environment. 

Tech M joins UNGC club on climate action

Tech M joins UNGC club on climate action

Digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering services provider Tech Mahindra has signed a joint declaration with UN Global Compact (UNGC), urging governments to align their Covid-19 recovery efforts with latest climate science. Incidentally, Tech M joins UNGC club on climate action on World Environment Day.

The UN Global Compact provides a universal language for corporate responsibility and provides a framework to guide all businesses regardless of size, complexity or location.

Tech Mahindra has joined 155 global companies in calling for policies that will build resilience against future shocks by supporting efforts to hold global temperature rise to within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with reaching net-zero emissions well before 2050. The statement comes as governments around the world are preparing trillions of dollars’ worth of stimulus packages to help economies recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and as they prepare to submit enhanced national climate plans under the Paris Agreement.

Tech Mahindra said that this declaration was an effort to reinforce its commitment toward reducing carbon footprints, emission and will conserve energy using new-age technologies such as internet of things, artificial intelligence and blockchain. The company has also claimed to implement an internal Carbon Price of $10/ton CO2 to boost green investments and have also adopted a low emission technology path to increase the use of renewable energy from 1.7% in 2016 to 18% in 2020. Moreover, it has also taken targets to increase the renewable source of energy to 50% by 2025.

CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra, said, “Covid-19 has allowed all of us to reconfigure our priorities and understand the importance of building a sustainable world – by focusing on healthcare and leveraging technology to enable new ways of working. At Tech Mahindra, we are committed towards building a sustainable business with responsibility and by creating value for our stakeholders, while also keeping in mind the long-term impacts on the environment. It’s time to focus on and implement technology-led solutions that will help us reboot.”

The United Nations Global Compact has stated that the 155 signatories span across 34 sectors and have a combined market capitalization of more than $2.4 trillion, representing 5 million employees. The business voices are convened by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and its Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign partners, the UN Global Compact and the We Mean Business coalition.

Sandeep Chandna, Chief Sustainability Officer, Tech Mahindra, said, “Covid-19 has made businesses realize the importance of adopting strategies which will deliver innovative solutions without adversely affecting the environment. Our commitment towards going carbon neutral, conserving, and deploying resources efficiently will enable helps us to accelerate our transition to a low carbon economy while creating sustainable value for our stakeholders. As part of our TechMNxt charter, we have incorporated reduction of emissions as a key aspect to every function’s mandate and our overall business strategy.”

Tech Mahindra also works closely with partners and customers to help them increase energy savings, digitize and automate operations and create collaborative work environments addressing the need for sustainable practices. This includes solutions like micro grid as a service, smart city solutions, smart grid, smart data hubs, smart street light, smart bin, smart energy management, smart metering and analytics, intelligent electric vehicle charging system (IEVCS), and community action platform for energy (CAPE).

Can renewables survive cheap-oil onslaught post Covid-19?

Can renewables survive cheap-oil onslaught post Covid-19?

The Covid-19 pandemic has abruptly disrupted the growth projections for almost all sectors and industries, and the energy sector is no exception. Pandemic-induced lockdowns have triggered a precipitous decline in energy demand, with a boon also coming in the form of significantly reduced carbon emissions. Renewables are under threat of cheap oil.

CO2 emissions have dropped the most ever due to the Covid-19 crisis, says a latest report from International Energy Agency (IEA). “Global energy-related CO2 emissions are set to fall nearly 8% in 2020 to their lowest level in a decade,” it says.

The report, however, warns, “Experience suggests that a large rebound is likely post crisis.”

In the recently published Global Energy Review, IEA, also says that due to the ongoing crisis, the energy demand is expected to fall by 6% in 2020, which is seven times the decline since the global financial crisis of 2008. This fall is equivalent of the energy demand from all of India, a nation of 1.3 billion people and the world’s third largest consumer of energy.

The partial to complete lockdown of global economies has triggered a massive slump in demand for fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. Due to the suspension of the international as well as inter-state and even intra-state travels, oil demand is expected to see the biggest drop in demand, threating to erase gains accrued in nearly a decade.

Green-technology market observers see this decline as a staggering blow to the clean energy momentum gained in the recent years. However, it is also true that if we decide to take a proactive approach, this could be a monumental opportunity to elevate our focus on renewable energy endeavors.

Let us analyze how the current situation could impact our sustainable future.

IEA stays bullish on renewables

“Renewables are set to be the only energy source that will grow in 2020, with their share of global electricity generation projected to jump thanks to their priority access to grids and low operating costs. Despite supply chain disruptions that have paused or delayed deployment in several key regions this year, solar PV and wind are on track to help lift renewable electricity generation by 5% in 2020, aided by higher output from hydropower,” notes IEA in its report.

A report titled Mapping India’s Energy Subsidy 2020, conducted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), try to examine how the Government of India (GoI) has used subsidies to support different types of energy. It states that the Indian government is still providing over seven times larger subsidies for fossil fuels as compared to subsidies for alternative energy. The recent world oil prices crash provides an opportunity to India, which can look at freeing up revenue by temporarily eliminating petroleum product subsidies while announcing stimulus for those companies who brace clean energy transition. For instance, due to the low oil prices, industry may witness a short-term dip in the electric vehicle uptake or deter the economic consumption of biofuels. To neutralize this, government should introduce electric vehicle incentives as part of the economic stimulus packages.

Industry observers see this as an ideal time to be investing in renewable energy. Not only it enables countries to create new jobs and make economies stronger, but it will also help us create a more resilient and better world. “It is still too early to determine the longer-term impacts, but the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before,” notes Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director in the Global Energy Review.

Dilemma for governments

It is apprehended that many countries could shift focus away from renewable energy efforts as their singular focus would be to restart up their economic engines as quickly as possible. They are quite likely to go for the traditional energy sources, owing to the sharp decline in their costs. In particular, oil prices are at a historical low, with the Brent crude having traded even at sub-dollar levels for a while in April 2020.

The triad of oil, gas, and coal form the core of the mainstream energy sector and any further disruption or closure of it could be crippling for the global economy itself. In India, for instance, almost 5% of the government’s total revenues from customs and excise, come from Reliance Industries Ltd., which in turn has most of its revenues coming from its oil refinery business.

Structural changes are needed

Considering the ongoing crisis, timely adoption of clean energy resources would be more significant than ever. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in a recently published blog,  notes that any suspension of clean energy efforts could pose grave threat to vulnerable communities of the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. It states that on the clean cooking front, slow progress in mainstreaming clean cooking solutions could see a dangerous combination of indoor air pollution and Covid-19. In this context, it notes, “Scientists are investigating links between air pollution and higher levels of coronavirus mortality, with preliminary results showing probable correlation between the two.”

Indeed, it is important for governments to plan and implement structural changes by earmarking requisite investments in transitioning to clean energies. Once the pandemic wanes, everyone would be busy taking decisions that could help kick-start economies. So to ensure that clean energy technologies feature substantially in the forthcoming recovery plans, there is a need to take some strategic decisions now. For a growing economy like India, which has been witnessing one of the highest growth rates in carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), it is extremely vital to prioritize clean energy transition.

What’s in it for India?

For India, while crude oil would continue to play a critical role at this stage of development in meeting country’s energy requirements, the Government had earlier set out a road map for reducing India’s crude oil imports by 10% by 2022. India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel Dhamendra Pradhan, had said in a keynote in January 2020, “We are in the process of developing new strategies and initiatives to achieve this target. We are working towards transformation to a gas-based economy, tapping into indigenously produced biofuels, apart from adopting renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, to achieve the much-needed carbon reductions. As part of the energy transition, decarbonization of the energy sector is picking up momentum in India.”

One also needs to be cognizant of the long-term repercussions, if we do not step up and accelerate the development of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar PV, and hydropower.

India has the opportunity to leverage low costs of crude oil to shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy brackets. This could, in fact, help accelerate the transition to clean energy rather than deaccelerating it.

If India could succeed in mainstreaming the renewable energy sector, it would also be able to insulate it from oil price fluctuations in future. This would increase the country’s attractiveness from an investment perspective too, and consequently make its economy more sustainable in the long run.

Policymakers need not put economic recovery and sustainable energy goals in two different baskets. In the post-Covid-19 environment, polices around clean energy subsidies could very much be accelerated. This would help us build a better, cleaner world, where economic growth and sustainability coexist.

Rural Women from Assam make masks, sanitizers

Rural Women from Assam make masks, sanitizers

Rural Women Technology Park (RWTP) under CSIR-North East Institute of Science and Technology, Jorhat, Supported by SEED Division, Department of Science and Technology (DST), has engaged rural women to prepare various products such as hand sanitizer, homemade mask, and liquid disinfectant to be distributed freely among family members and poor people in the nearby villages to help combat COVID 19 in the area.

“Meeting a challenge such as COVID-19 needs strong community participation and support. Self-help groups and dedicated NGOs are perfect vehicles in the current scenario for awareness creation, introducing relevant solutions, making and distributing the low-tech items such as masks and disinfectants,” said Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.

Rural women from the region were trained to produce homemade mask from traditional ‘gamocha’ (a traditional Assamese cotton towel) by RWTP, Jorhat. Design of the home made mask has been finalized, around 150 gamochas purchased and two sewing machines arranged (6 homemade masks can be prepared from one gamocha).

It has been proposed that the women be paid at the rate of Rs 15 per mask. Apart from this, 200 liters of liquid disinfectant is being produced. The raw materials required for liquid disinfectant like dettol, ethanol, glycerine, essential oil have been acquired. The disinfectant will also be distributed freely among the family members and poor people in the nearby village.

The women of RWTP were trained before closing down on March 24. The participant women prepared about 50 litres of hand sanitizer, 160 litres of liquid disinfectant which have been distributed among the 60 women participants and their family members. The RWTP also prepared posters and leaflets on ‘COVID19 : Do’s and Don’ts’ in Assamese language for making people aware about the Corona Virus and precautionary measures to be taken during the present situation.

EU’s new circular economy action plan

EU’s new circular economy action plan

Aiming to create a greener economy, the European Union has decided to reduce the consumption footprint in the region and double its circular material use rate in the coming decade. The initiative is part of the Circular Economy Action Plan adopted by the European Commission (EC) early last week.

Calling it Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth, the action plan envisages steps for increasing the average life cycle of products, strengthening competitiveness while protecting the environment, and enacting new consumer rights.

Under the new initiative, the Commission aims to propose a legislation on Sustainable Product Policy to ensure that products sold in the EU market are designed to last longer, are easier to reuse, repair and recycle, and incorporate as much as possible recycled material instead of primary raw material.

The new legislation will also impose restrictions on single-use products and help tackle premature obsolescence by banning destruction of unsold durable goods.

Commenting on the initiative European Green Deal Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans pointed out that the European economy at present was mostly linear, with only 12% of secondary materials and resources being brought back into the economy.

“To achieve climate-neutrality by 2050, to preserve our natural environment, and to strengthen our economic competitiveness, requires a fully circular economy. Today, many products break down too easily, cannot be reused, repaired or recycled, or are made for single use only. There is a huge potential to be exploited both for businesses and consumers. With the new plan we launch action to transform the way products are made and empower consumers to make sustainable choices for their own benefit and that of the environment,” he stated.

The Action Plan, which is part of EU’s Industrial Strategy, also aims to ensure that consumers have access to reliable information on issues such as the reparability and durability of products to help them make environmentally sustainable choices and provide them benefit of a true “Right to Repair.”

According to the FAQ shared on the EC website, the new Action Plan announces initiatives from design and manufacturing to consumption, repair, reuse, recycling, and bringing resources back into the economy, and is at the core of the European Green Deal, the EU roadmap towards climate-neutrality.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “We only have one Planet Earth, and yet by 2050 we will be consuming as if we had three. The new Plan will make circularity the mainstream in our lives and speed up the green transition of our economy. We offer decisive action to change the top of the sustainability chain – product design. Future-oriented actions will create business and job opportunities, give new rights to European consumers, harness innovation and digitalization and, just like nature, make sure that nothing is wasted.”

“Half of total greenhouse gas emissions come from resource extraction and processing. It is not possible to achieve the climate-neutrality target by 2050 without transitioning to a fully circular economy,” the Commission stated, adding that by applying ambitious circular economy measures, Europe can increase EU’s GDP by an additional 0.5% by 2030 and create over 700,000 new jobs.

Krishi Vigyan Mela 2020 starts in Pusa

Krishi Vigyan Mela 2020 starts in Pusa

Inaugurating the Pusa Krishi Vigyan Mela-2020, the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Narendra Singh Tomar has called for retention of talent in Agriculture. He said India has a vast pool of agricultural scientists and specialists graduating from universities every year. “Government can provide funds, subsidies and incentives, but there has to be an interest in farming. For this agriculture has to be made a profitable venture; it should fulfil the nation’s needs, its share in GDP and exports should rise,” he added.

“Your purpose in career does not end with securing a cushy job or just remain engaged in education and research, but you should be a successful farmer in your area. Even those agriculturists retiring every year should remain involved in farming and inspire others. The farmer should remain alive in you. You may engage in farming in your kitchen garden in your spare time. It will keep you connected with agriculture as a profession,” said Tomar.

Tomar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given priority to agriculture and set a target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022. In this direction, the Government has ensured one-and-a-half times MSP of input costs to farmers, assured Rs 6,000 annually to farmers covered under the PM-KISAN scheme and a loan of Rs 1,60,000 under Kisan Credit Card. The Prime Minister has ensured transparency in disbursal of benefits to farmers and now there is no role for middlemen and brokers. Besides, there will be no shortage of funds and budgetary support for agriculture, he said.

Tomar said the Prime Minister yesterday launched the registration of 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) in order to promote cooperative farming. Budgetary provision of Rs. 6,600 crore has been made to provide each FPO a sum of Rs. 15 lakh for all farming related activities ranging from sowing, harvesting to distribution and marketing. For this purpose a Credit Guarantee Fund of Rs.1,500 crore has been created jointly by NABARD and NCDC.

Tomar said geographic divisions and climate change pose a challenge to our agriculture community. He said the Ministry is in the process of organizing a big conference in each of the eight zones. The Minister said field exhibitions on the patterns of Pusa Krishi Vigyan Mela should also be organized simultaneously. The Prime Minister has directed that a study on Pesticides be included as part of Agriculture curriculum.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Parshottam Rupala called for organizing such Farmers’ Fairs in every state. He urged the Agriculture Institutes and scientists to ensure that superior seeds are provided to farmers at reasonable rates.

Pointing out that the Government and the Agriculture Institutes are committed to promoting Agriculture, MoS (Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare) Kailash Choudhary hoped a day will come when the farmer is no longer a borrower but becomes creditor.

In his address, Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) & Director General, ICAR, said a large number of farmers participate in the Kisan Vigyan Mela and buy the superior quality seeds developed by the ICAR institutes.

On the occasion, Tomar and other dignitaries released ICAR publications.

At a separate function, an MoU was signed between the ICAR and Patanjali Bio Research Institute (PBRI), Haridwar in the presence of the three Ministers. The MoU was signed by Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra on behalf of ICAR and Acharya Balkrishna, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Patanjali & Managing Director, PBRI. Speaking on the occasion, Tomar said the MoU will promote Organic Farming with the R&D expertise of ICAR and the indigenization efforts of Patanjali in a wide range of products.

Source: PIB, APS/PK

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