UltraTech Cement Limited, India’s leading cement and RMC company, has been conferred the prestigious ‘TERI-IWA-UNDP Water Sustainability Award 2022’ by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in association with the International Water Association (IWA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the eve of World Water Day 2023.
The award was conferred to UltraTech at the ‘2nd Water Sustainability Awards 2022-2023’ on March 21, 2023 at New Delhi. UltraTech was recognized under the ‘Water For All’ category for the watershed project implemented by its integrated cement manufacturing unit Andhra Pradesh Cement Works in two villages located near the unit. The project aims to protect and restore community water structures in rural Andhra Pradesh, uplifting the lives and livelihoods of the local population.
Enhancing livelihoods through watershed management
To address the water scarcity issue in the semi-arid chronically drought prone Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh Cement Works (APCW), located in Tadipatri, Andhra Pradesh, adopted Ayyavaripalli (Anantapur district) and Petnikota (Nandyal district) villages in Andhra Pradesh state to implement integrated watershed project. The region faces an alarming 30% per year decrease in ground water levels. The unit partnered with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) for implementation of the project to address water scarcity, land degradation and low crop productivity and thereby improve the income levels and living standards of villagers.
Seven water harvesting structures were constructed in Ayyavaripalli village of Kolimigundla Mandal and Petnikota village of Tadipatri Mandal to enhance the ground water levels in addition to improving year-long availability of water. Farmers were trained on good agricultural practices and income generation activities and demonstrations were conducted on best practices for land use and crop management to increase crop productivity.
High yield variety of seeds developed by ICRISAT were distributed for utilisation by local farmers in 250-280 acres of farmland. Soil health cards were distributed to farmers in these two villages. Training programmes were conducted for farmers to increase awareness on usage of fertilizers and pesticides based on soil health condition which resulted in reduced usage of fertilizers and pesticides there by reducing the cost of cultivation. Kitchen Garden seeds were distributed to households, encouraging local women to earn additional income.
Impact of the integrated watershed project
The Andhra Pradesh Cement Works project benefited over 2,000 people across 500 households living in these two villages. The project through its various interventions has resulted in multiple income enhancing benefits for the villagers.
Increased water availability
- The rainwater harvesting structures in Patnikota and Ayyavaripalli have created a water storage capacity of around 35,000 cubic meters (m3).
- The rainwater harvesting structures have harvested about five lakh m3 of water as of January 2023.
- Ground water levels in the watershed areas went up by 2-4 meters due to rainwater harvesting structures.
- 400 acres of barren land was brought into cultivation due to watershed interventions in both the villages.
Increased crop yields:
- Harvest from high-yield variety seeds resulted in a 30-40% increase in the yield.
- The recharged rainwater provides irrigation to nearly 346 hectares of cultivable area in the two villages.
- Farmers cultivated crops across three cropping seasons in 115 hectares of land by sowing millets or short-duration vegetable crops in the post-rainy season thereby increase their income.
- Women earned an income of Rs. 2500 to 3000 per month through the sale of kitchen farm produce.