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Sustainable Development:Understanding our Environmental and Social Responsibilities

Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. (POWERGRID) an ISO 14001 certified company and the Central Transmission Utility of the country is one of the largest electrical power transmission utilities in the world. By the very nature of our business, we touch millions of lives every day and understand that real success is the result of inclusive development of all the involved entities and stakeholders.

Our developmental activities have minimal environmental and social impact owing to very nature of activities that does not involve disposal of any pollutant in land, air or water nor it involve large scale excavation which may result in soil erosion. In spite of that POWERGRID, which is committed to achieve the goal of Sustainable Development had realized that given the scale of its operations, it is inevitable that there is some impact upon both natural environment and communities that it helps to support. To address such issues, POWERGRID has integrated environmental and social management procedures into its corporate operations by enunciating Environmental and Social Policy & Procedures (ESPP).

POWERGRID’s Environmental and Social Policy & Procedures (ESPP)

POWERGRID is the first company in Asia to have a comprehensive and written “Environmental and Social Policy & Procedures (ESPP)” to manage environment & social issues of transmission projects. POWERGRID evolved its ESPP in 1998 through nationwide consultation involving Stakeholders, General public, Representatives from Ministry of Power, MOEF, CEA, State Electricity Boards, Allied Organizations, Academia, NGOs, Multilateral funding agencies and Project Affected Persons (PAPs).   The basic principle of the  ESPP are  Avoidance, Minimization and Mitigation and it outlines POWERGRID's commitment to deal with environmental and social issues relating to its projects and lays out management procedures and protocol to address them. The ESPP has been revised twice in 2005 and 2009 to make it updated in line with the changed rules and guidelines of Govt. of India, including that of multilateral funding agency like World Bank, ADB, JBIC, etc. and suggestion/best practices and feedback received from different sites. During the revisions of ESPP, the consultative process was further enlarged to engage all stakeholders, including Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and the local communities. The regional level consultations were organized in southern, western, northern and eastern regions of the country. The national consultation was held at its corporate office in Gurgaon.

In April’09, POWERGRID achieved another distinction by becoming the first company completely assessed and certified by World Bank under the Use of Country System (UCS) policy in the field of Environment & Social Management. We aim to ensure total transparency and accountability in dealing with our stakeholders and their involvement through well-defined procedures as well as dissemination of relevant information at every stage of project implementation.

The ESPP Spells Out POWERGRID’s Commitment To:

  • Ensure total transparency in dealing with all the stakeholders i.e. concerned government agencies, local communities, individual landowners and employees through a well-defined public consultation process as well as dissemination of relevant information about the project at every stage of implementation.
  • Maintain the highest standards of corporate responsibility not only towards its employees but also to the consumers and the civil society, social responsibility through various community development activities for promoting socio-economic development and most importantly through people’s participation.
  • To minimize adverse impacts on the natural environment by consciously economizing on the requirement of land for civil structures, reducing the width of the Right of Way (ROW), adopting multi circuit towers and state of the art technology in transmission etc.

Sustainable Development

Striving to be a responsible corporate citizen, POWERGRID tries to find a balance between the often-competing demands of the technical, economical, and environmental commitments. The corporation is committed to protecting and enhancing the natural environment in all its operations as far as possible and aim to go beyond compliance with environmental legislations. POWERGRID endeavours to achieve sustainable development through five interlinked themes: Stakeholders, Environment, Networks, Statistics and Employees. The importance of sustainable development is understood by the corporation and embedded its imperatives in all its activities to ensure that the efforts to promote sustainable development are successful.

POWERGRID is the first Power Utility in the World accredited with a Publicly Available Specification, PAS 99:2006 based Integrated Management System (IMS) that includes ISO 9001:2008 (Quality Management System), ISO 14001:2004 (Environment Management System) and OHSAS 18001:2007 (Occupational Health & Safety Management System). The Company is also certified with Social Accountability Standards SA 8000:2008 for its human resource and labor management policies and practices. 

Transparency

Transparency is the fundamental characteristic of being accountable. POWERGRID is the first PSU in Power Sector of the country who has brought out its maiden Sustainability Report for the FY 2008-09 in March ’10 based on Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines. POWERGRID is the 1st company in Indian power sector to come out with a separate “Sustainability Report” in 2010 following internationally accepted Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) guidelines. The 3rd such report duly certified by Independent Agency as “A+” disclosed in Sept., 2015 for public information. The report highlighted some of the initiatives undertaken to achieve the goal of Sustainable Development while also disclosing data pertaining to our impact on environment, society and economy. As the activities of the company have minimal environmental and social impact the company publishes its Sustainability Report biennially.    

 Initiatives Towards Conservation of Environment

Avoiding ecologically sensitive areas while routing lines

There has been tremendous reduction in forest involvement in commissioning of transmission lines. For example, forest involvement which was about 6% in 27,000 Circuit Km. of lines till 1998. However, after implementation of ESPP w.e.f. 1998, diversion of forest area has been reduced to approximately 1.88 % taking into consideration the addition of approximate 88637 Circuit Km. of line during 1998 to March 2015.

Green Installation

As a step forward in using New and Renewable energy a 10 kW Hybrid Generation Plant consisting of 4 kW Solar Photo Voltaic & 6 kW Wind Generation has been commissioned at Mapusa (Goa) substation in April, 2009. With this Mapusa substation has joined hands in using Green Power for its internal consumption. The system is generating about 30 kWh per day and is utilized at Community Centre, Children Park and few street lights. Subsequently Solar Plants of 5 kW to 50 kW have been installed at various substations.

Towards Sustainability, a 50 kWp grid interactive solar PV system has been installed at POWERGRID Corporate Centre, Gurgaon on September, 2015. It shall meet about 3-4 % of total energy requirement in the complex and also facilitate C02 reduction of about 40 Tons per annum.

Reducing Right of Way (ROW) Requirement

 With the development of innovative tower design, ROW requirement reduced from 85 m to 64 m for 765 kV and from 52 m to 46 m for 400 kV D/C line. Apart from this, installation of pole type structure for 400 kV transmission line in densely populated urban area has not only reduced the ROW & base width requirement, but also more aesthetic compared to conventional lattice type structure.

Employing Advanced Technology To Protect Ecosystems

Adoption of innovative tower design like multi-circuit and very tall towers to protect wildlife, trees in ecologically sensitive areas (In Tehri transmission line tree felling was reduced to 14739 against earlier estimate of 90000 trees in Rajaji National Park due to installation of 85 m high towers)

 New technologies have been adopted over the time to reduce width of right of way for the construction of transmission lines which is evident from the following table.

Reduction In Raw Material Requirement

POWERGRID’s contribution to the conservation of the national resource base and efforts to reduce the material intensity is an integral part of corporation’s sustainability strategy. The huge quantities of raw materials such as iron, steel, aluminium have been reduced over the years. This has been achieved through technological innovation using high capacity transmission lines transmitting more power. For example, use of high-temperature low-sag conductor, enhances the power carrying capacity, thereby reducing material consumption by avoiding the need for extra transmission line.

Replenishment of Natural Resources

Massive plantations in sub-stations where about 2 to 4 acre of land is being afforested with suitable species of plants in consultation with local forest department in almost each of our sub-stations. Wherever feasible, a separate fund is also earmarked for this purpose. 

POWERGRID has adopted Rain Water Harvesting and collection of even used/waste water for its conservation and recharging of ground water in its substation.

POWERGRID is following practice of manual stringing in thick forests and on slopes, to minimise damage to the environment.

Environment Protection Expenditure incurred towards following:

Compensatory afforestation.
•    Voluntary plantation. 
•    Rainwater harvesting.
•    EMP implementation. 
•    Certifications, Consultancy charges and Awareness Training Programmes etc.

The continuous and sharp increase in expenditure towards environment management is a testimony of POWERGRID commitment for Environment Conservation/Protection.

Reducing Social Impact

POWERGRID is establishing compact GIS substations in place of conventional substations to have barest minimum land requirement and tries to locate sub-station on Govt. land to minimize the social impact.

Community Development Works

POWERGRID recognizes its social responsibility and provide utmost importance to communities with whom we share local resources. The corporation requires land for construction of substations. During construction, all individuals, whose land is acquired, are consulted and the affected persons are duly compensated for their land as decided by Distt. Administration. Beyond the land compensation POWERGRID provides Resettlement and Rehabilitation assistance within the social entitlement framework and various community developments works in villages adjoining the substation, few examples are shown below.

Establishment of Waste Paper Recycling Plant

Operating “Waste Paper Recycling Plant” since September 2012 to recycle waste paper generated at Corporate Office that has resulted in conservation of natural resources like tree, water etc. and also reduced procurement of paper/stationary items from the open market. This initiative has further reduced our carbon footprint as 1 ton of virgin printing paper requires 17 trees, 4 kilolitres of water & 1350kW of energy.