Tata Steel is pursuing a collaborative approach on biodiversity by engaging the employees and local communities through various awareness programmes and workshops. The Company’s future endeavors will be aimed at enhancing strategic partnerships with organisations and agencies to collaborate on biodiversity conservation projects.
Apart from being recognised by the CII-ITC, Tata Steel has also bagged several industry awards for its work in the areas of sustainability and biodiversity. This year, Tata Steel launched its new corporate brand campaign ‘We Also Make Tomorrow’ inspired from its work done in the areas of technology, innovation and sustainability.
Tata Steel has a four tiered approach, which consists of two phases: first phase is the development phase where Tata Steel sets its vision and strategic objectives and the long-term strategies (LTS) to achieve them. The second phase is the deployment phase in which the strategies are converted into action plans through the process of long-term planning (LTP) and annual business planning (ABP).
Tata Steel has consciously invested in biodiversity conservation. The Company has been actively working with the several organisations, to enhance its performance in biodiversity conservation and significantly reducing its impact on ecosystem and biodiversity. Being a business leader in steel making, mining, and manufacturing, the Company is going beyond the regulatory regimes and setting high standards for itself on the social and environmental matters.
Today, sustainability and particularly creating and maintaining excellence in biodiversity is an essential element of how Tata Steel runs its business. Tata Steel launched its Biodiversity Policy in 2016. The policy provides guidelines for including biodiversity in every strategic and operational decision making. The Company is aligning its actions with the National Biodiversity Targets set in 2014 (India level), Aichi Biodiversity Targets set in 2010 (Global level) and Sustainable Development Goals to integrate biodiversity into its business ecosystem and enable a better tomorrow for future generations.
This journey has started with Tata Steel’s engagement with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2013. This engagement is part of IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity programme. It seeks to encourage transformational and demonstrable change at the company and sector level on importance of biodiversity conservation relevant to industry and thereby bring about positive gains for conservation at the local and landscape level.
IUCN conducted a baseline survey of Tata Steel’s locations and gave its recommendations on biodiversity management. This included biodiversity assessments, ground truthing studies, secondary research, including stakeholder interactions and understanding the eco-system services provided by the biodiversity. The risks to biodiversity and eco-system services from the Company’s operations and community behaviour were identified and then used to develop its biodiversity conservation and management plan.
IUCN believes that engagement with Tata Steel will not only help the Company reduce its footprint on ecology but would also inspire other companies in going beyond the regulatory regime and bring positive gains for conservation, enhancement and restoration of biodiversity. In the interest of conservation, the Company has committed to avoid acquisition of properties whose development may result in loss of critical habitat for species with special conservation status. The aim of Tata Steel’s Biodiversity Policy is ‘No Net Loss of biodiversity’.
Tata Steel has rolled out Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) with IUCN for all its mines in the state of Jharkhand and Odisha. The overall focus of BMP is biodiversity conservation and enhancement in and around the mining sites. BMPs are integrated with the requirements of progressive mine closure plans as well as environment clearance conditions, while including requirements of global standards on biodiversity conservation and mine restoration i.e. World Bank/ International Finance Corporation (IFC) and International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).
Following are biodiversity initiatives which are contributing towards the biodiversity conservation:
Spread across an area of 147 acres, the Jubilee Park is one of the most beautiful areas of the industrial city Jamshedpur. The park is home to 120 types of trees and plants. With a size of 30 acres, the Jayanti Sarovar Lake in the park supports fishes like Rahu, Katla, Catfish, Garai, Cheng and Pontius. It is habitat to various species of mollusc like pond snail, unio, pila and melanoids as well as attracts a variety of migratory birds during winter.
The Jamshedpur Zoo managed by Tata Steel is located within this park. This zoo built on 37 ha of land has 36 species of birds and 28 species of animals, reptiles, butterflies and fruit bats. There are 21 birds, 5 reptiles and 63 mammals of the endangered variety in the zoo.
The West Bokaro Colliery (WBC) covers an area of 1740 ha, located in the Ghato and portion of the Mandu block, Ramgarh District in the State of Jharkhand. Due to coal mining, 800 ha of land has been impacted of which 250 ha has been subject to partial restoration and the remaining 940 ha will be altered by ongoing surface mine expansion until mine closure. The cumulative effects of mining, ancillary activities, secondary service industry, attendant in‐migration of the workforce and opportunistic business, has and will result in the net loss of representatives of a large number of recorded and unrecorded species and their associated ecosystem services.
The mining and metals industry operates in both remote and environmentally sensitive regions, as well as in areas where biodiversity is of limited value. Often, the most prospective areas for future mines will also be those with the greatest biodiversity value. By its very nature, mining can have significant direct and secondary environmental and social impacts on the ecosystem.
In an independent multi-stakeholder analysis of how the mining industry can maximize its role in the transition to sustainable patterns of development. The Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project by the International Institute for Environment and Development highlighted the need for the mining industry to improve its performance in biodiversity assessment and management, and the need for all stakeholders to commit to better models for decision-making processes in land use and access.
Assured supplies of minerals to meet the needs of the world’s growing population can be properly integrated into regional development and biodiversity conservation strategies. As the understanding of the value of biodiversity has improved in recent years, so has the appreciation of significant threats to it. The wealth that mining creates allows the industry to have a positive effect on biodiversity. Besides the ethical and environmental reasons, mining companies need to address biodiversity for a variety of sound business reasons.
As part of its commitment to sustainability, Tata Steel set-up Dalma View Point, a picnic area on the Marine Drive (Western Corridor), adjacent to the management institute, XLRI at Jamshedpur in December 2020. Spread over an area of 5 acres, the Dalma View Point is Tata Steel’s strategic commitment to improving green cover in and around Jamshedpur Steel Works.
It is yet another initiative to reiterate Tata Steel’s commitment to sustainability and the clean and green environment is not only adding to the beauty of the area but is also helping conserve biodiversity and sustainable development.
Earlier the site was a Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)landfill area with limited vegetative growth. The existing dump has been converted into a green park by layering the dump with soil and plantation of variety ranging from erosion of soil to stabilisation of slopes. Air and water pollution from the contaminated dump site was affecting the adjoining area. Vigorous growth of weeds and bushes provided an enjoyable atmosphere for varieties of creatures and poisonous snakes. Local and migratory birds stopped coming to this area.
The slopes of the dump have been stabilised by Wadelia trilobata, a plant species which has an extensive root system. These species help in attracting various species of butterflies mainly Zizeeria karsandra, Eurema Hecabe, etc. The surrounding area to the dump has been converted into a green zone ranging from plantation area, grass lawns and picnic area. The picnic area attracts species of butterflies, birds and insects by planting trees and shrubs of various nature and importance.
A pond has been developed inside the picnic area to use the run-off water and also enhance the aesthetic view. The pond is equipped with a fountain to maintain the dissolved oxygen level and improve the quality of water in the pond.
The area has flowering and fruit bearing trees like Indian Cherry that not only enriches the aesthetic view of the area but also helps in attracting birds. The mound top after beatification is now a view point for the Subarnarekha river and Dalma hills. Planting of more than 1000 plants, 28000 creepers, 5000 shrubs and 13000 metre square of grass have enhanced the green canopy in the area. Birds and butterflies are now attracted to water and plants that have increased the biodiversity presence in the area.
The Dalma ViewPoint will fulfill the long-felt demand of the citizens in creating more such spaces in Jamshedpur for family outings and leisure gatherings.
With the rejuvenation of the pond located at the Bara area of Jamshedpur town, Tata Steel has once again reiterated its commitment to water sustainability. The pond, popularly known as CRM Bara Pond, comprised one large and two small waterbodies. It now serves as a source of rainwater harvesting and plays a pivotal role in maintaining the biodiversity of the surrounding area.
For some time, the water bodies were fast vanishing due to negligence and poor upkeep. Tata Steel undertook the responsibility of rejuvenating the water bodies as part of its commitment to long-term water sustainability. The Company’s efforts have led to the creation of an ornamentally-designed reservoir and the water bodies have been restored to a beautiful pond. This has resulted in accumulating 82,320 m3 of rain water, reducing pollution and improving the biodiversity in the area. Besides, the ground water table has seen a rise post implementation of the project.
It merits mention that Tata Steel's strategic commitment to water sustainability has helped reduce freshwater consumption in the Steel City by around 50 per cent over the last 10 years. The Company's plans to rejuvenate water bodies in Jamshedpur will not only help in water harvesting but also reduce water pollution.
Around the CRM Bara Pond, Tata Steel has planted more than 5,000 plants leading to enhancement of the green canopy in the area. Birds and butterflies are attracted to the waterbody and plants. As such, the biodiversity has been augmented in and around the project area. Migratory birds are attracted to the thriving population of fish in the pond. A clean and green environment has not only added to the beauty and charm of the area, but has also generated a feeling of calm and serenity.
Community participation was critical to the success of the project and the local public was sensitised on the inherent benefits of rejuvenation of the water bodies. It eventually turned out to be a win-win situation for all stakeholders.
Tata Steel’s Noamundi Iron Ore Mine is naturally endowed with a lower stripping ratio and the overburden produced has been utilised in reclamation/restoration of the mine. Restoration was scientifically engineered over a period of many decades, while implementation of the afforestation plan was a joint exercise with local stakeholders. The Company has covered a 126-hectare area across which was adopted for progressive reclamation. The afforestation has made the restored mined out area a habitat for local birds and animal species today. Local stakeholders use these regenerated forests as a source of livelihood, extracting traditional medicinal plants, minimising the impact on other natural forests. Plantation of native species in dump helps reclaim the mine to its original position, which is in harmony with surrounding virgin forest. Developing local forest as part of progressive reclamation plan helps in achieving the goals of final mine closure plan.
Niche Nesting was taken as one of Project identified under Biodiversity Management Plan to improve Birds’ Biodiversity at Noamundi. Location of nest and Its monitoring was done in Geographic Information System (GIS) Platform.
Niche, is a space selected by any animal or plant species for feeding, resting, sleeping, nesting, breeding, and growing plants. A niche creates a secure space for species with less competition from other species and the freedom to grow.
With guidance from IUCN scientists, Noamundi has developed the nest boxes and placed it at the various locations in reclaimed areas of the mining site.
The Jugsalai Muck Dump (JMD) was formed over the years by dumping of cinder and slag, mainly consisting of iron and coal having 64% of sand and 36% of silt content. These characteristics of soil reveal that the site is devoid of any organic matter and also has high temperature. Hence not conducive for sustainable biological growth in normal conditions. JMD is situated in the city of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand State of India. The population of city is 13.4 lakhs. JMD area is spread over an area of 62 acers, the dump height level is variable from 133 m to 188 m above mean sea level having varied slopes, terraces and locations. The dumping has yielded a high level of undulation and the site is devoid of organic matters sustainable for vegetative growth. JMD was posed environmental, safety and health hazards for the people of Jamshedpur.
The objective of JMD development was to create environmentally safe and sustainable ‘Green Cover’ and suitable ‘Geo Green Blanketing’ to protect side slopes and prevent soil erosion and dust control while adding aesthetic value to the steel city of Jamshedpur. One of main focus area of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and to rehabilitate the degraded lands and create forest cover for arresting desertification.
Due to sandy soil texture, there was a high probability of ash and cinder being washed off from the dump slope into nearby waterbodies during heavy rains. Fire hazard was also anticipated as the dump was formed with the stacking of ash and cinders of unburnt coal which when exposed to air could result in spontaneous combustion specially in the peak summer months. This posed a severe health and safety hazards especially for those who engaged in illegal collection of unburnt coal particles from the dump. The temperature of the majority of the dump area due to the burning of the half-burned coal, is around 50 to 70oC, which was a huge challenge for growing plants. Considering the soil conditions and characteristics of the JMD, a comprehensive rehabilitation plan has been implemented for slope stabilization and vegetative growth for biological reclamation of the muck dump. Eco-restoration approach implemented with 100% biodegradable non-synthetic geotextile coir mat and coir logs on the dump slope and with application of growing media in slurry form of minimum 5 cm thickness, with a ratio of Neo-peat, top soil, and manure with micro nutrients before and after laying of the geotextile coir mat, followed by plantation of grass and shrubs. Therefore, to have a sustainable green cover over such a soil texture is to create a surface which enhanced water retention, provide better aeration, improve physical and biological conditions of soil and promote development of root system which has given strength of dump soil stabilization. One of the important features of this project was to develop a sustainable source of water supply to the JMD site, because there was no such water source which could provide a perennial water source for the sustenance of biological reclamation proposed through propagation of vegetative growth over the dump slope surface as well as in the non-slope areas. It was proposed to reuse the drain water from one of the big drains running near to the dump site to start the eco reclamation process. Additionally, once the slopes were stabilized at the dump site and a table top was created, rainwater harvesting system was also created within the eco-park for self-sustenance of the eco-park.
JMD is helping in achieving this objective of UNCCD by arresting the soil erosion and assisting in air pollution control and checking in the contamination of water of bodies through plantation and dump reclamation as eco-park. Considering the biodiversity conservation through restoration, rehabilitation and managing ecosystem services JMD has become home for different species medicinal plants, birds, small animals, butterflies etc. To minimise emissions and mitigate climate change, JMD contribute in stopping fire hazard caused during peak summers. Water bodies created within the reclaimed dump, not only help in rain water harvesting but have also enhanced the biodiversity with fishes and ducks. The water fountain in water bodies help in aeration of water bodies and also provide an appealing look to the entire area. Pond Liners are used to prevent seepage and leaching. Solar Energy is also being harnessed at the Park for generation of electricity for irrigation and lighting. JMD is now developed as an eco-park and has also enhanced the biodiversity in the area and also minimize the environmental impact of a dump area.