Project BOOND by BPCL: Transforming Water-Scarce Villages into Water-Positive Oases
In rural India, it is customary for women to walk for more than five hours every day in order to bring clean water to their families. Our everyday commute to school, which passes through a rural area, exposes us to this issue. Women in these villages have been observed performing this labor, which is not only taxing on their bodies but also dangerous to their health and wellness. They are forced to make a hard decision because of their water collection method, which makes them more vulnerable to assault, unable to go to school, and unable to work.
Water Conservation is Crucial to India
Four percent of the world's water resources are in India. However, the NITI Aayog reported in 2019 that India is experiencing the biggest water crisis in its history, depriving nearly 600 million people of access to water. It's a result of years of overexploitation that have been made worse by climate change's effects. Water scarcity is worsening social inequality and reducing mass productivity, highlighting once more how crucial water conservation is for both enterprises and society.
While many towns with access to plenty of water may be protected from the immediate effects of water shortage, they are not immune to the unfavorable ripple effects that it causes in less fortunate places. The Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) offer the framework and the objectives that should direct global efforts toward more inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods.
By 2030, the world population is expected to be between 8.4 and 8.6 billion people and between 9.5 and 13.3 billion in 2100, when it's probable that the population will stabilize and begin to decline. According to estimations by the FAO, over the past century, worldwide water intake increased 1.7 times faster than global population growth, which exacerbates worries about the sustainability of water use as demand for water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural applications rises.
BPCL: A Leader of Water Conservation
The PSU Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) received Maharatna status. Its history dates back to 1860 when it was still known as the Burma Oil Company. India gained its freedom, and a few years later, in 1952, a revitalized new administration assumed control. But back then, the business went under the name Bharat Refineries Ltd. It wasn't until 1977 that it evolved into the innovative energy powerhouse known as Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.
The primary thrust areas of education, skill development, people with disabilities, water conservation, health, and hygiene are where BPCL Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) acts. The implementation of projects for the upliftment of the most marginalized sections in the regions it operates requires respectful, synergistic collaborations (SDG 17).
Project BOOND: Water is Life
Dehydration, water-borne illnesses, incorrect sanitation, and poor hygiene are only a few of the social evils caused by a lack of water. Without access to water, an economy cannot be sustained. For survival itself, access to water is crucial. Water is essential for survival in and of itself. Bharat Petroleum CSR has made serious attempts to provide water security in rural regions while keeping these fundamental facts in mind.
To turn villages with limited water supplies into water-positive communities, BPCL launched Project BOOND in 2010. Through rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, and water retention techniques that protect this priceless natural resource, BOOND has transformed 280 villages into water-positive communities over the past ten years. The initiative was so successful that it received praise from all across the world, including the Asian CSR Award and the SKOCH Silver Award.
A team from Bharat Petroleum visited Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the situation. They discovered that rural residents relied on adorable tiny ponds and bore wells for drinking water but were constantly short of water. When it rained less frequently than normal, the ponds would dry up. Bore wells didn't receive the maintenance that they needed.
For villages to have a continuous supply of water throughout the year, Bharat Petroleum CSR collaborated with NGO partner DHAN (Development of Humane Action) to repair and maintain water infrastructure. Project BOOND AkshayJal II (2013–2016), one of BOOND's components, focused on building rainwater collection systems and providing communities with sustainable means of subsistence. In Mokhada (Maharashtra), the drip irrigation component ultimately led to increased crop yields and greater water accessibility for farmers.
Since 2013, this flagship initiative has been introducing farmers in Bharatpur to organic farming methods, developing watersheds, and rainwater gathering. It also divides them into groups for training sessions and creates SHGs for the women. The villagers are encouraged by BOOND to contribute 15% to 25% of their expenses in order to give them a sense of ownership.
Impact of Project Boond
In order to transform the villagers from passive recipients of assistance into active participants who can carry on on their own, the project proactively established a number of committees to oversee the financial and administrative operations of the activities. After confirming that the participants were independent over time, the CSR team left the sites. Inadvertently, Project BOOND has evolved into the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan's CSR program.
By improving water availability and raising groundwater levels, the extensive initiative has transformed more than 230 villages from "water scarce" to "water positive" in the six states of India.
The preventative measures include the construction of farm ponds, KT weir dams, sub-surface bunds, gabions, cordons, and small percolation tanks, as well as the rehabilitation and deepening of wells, the gathering of roof runoff, and tank desiltation. The program's sustainability is maintained by the active community involvement in these initiatives, notably "Shramdaan."
By putting a number of water conservation interventions into place in a number of water-scarce places, Project BOOND (Water conservation project) has been giving many people new hope. A practical method of collecting rainwater is by building check dams. Rooftop water collection is an addition to the bigger measure. This accumulating mass provides enduring water availability while also dramatically raising groundwater levels. Farmers get more money when there are more months when water is available for their livelihood.
Increased income from fisheries and organic farming was another benefit of the refilled tanks and farm ponds. Additionally, it is used as a reserve for irrigation of a subsequent crop, the water collected.
A Promising Future
More than 230 towns have been transformed from "water scarce" to "water positive" courtesy of Project BOOND (Water conservation project), an achievement that was formerly thought to be challenging or even unattainable.
Overall, BPCL was able to significantly improve the lives of beneficiaries through this project, having beneficial effects on the generation of livelihoods, groundwater recharge, soil erosion control, and food security.
The duration of water retention in wells, hand pumps, and soil moisture retention near Bunds has all been extended because of BPCL programs. With less water needed from bore wells, it has also made it easier to irrigate wheat and mustard. Since 2013, several initiatives have been carried out, including the development of watersheds, training courses for farmer groups, self-help organizations, farmer training in organic agriculture, etc.
Additionally, BOOND has had success reintroducing the local flora and fauna to the areas surrounding their initiatives. The amount of vegetation surrounding water bodies is growing, and bio-indicator creatures like birds and butterflies are becoming more common in the surrounding ecological setting.