Championing change: Indian Oil’s vision for a sustainable future

Sustainability vision of Indian Oil Corporation
Mr PS Mony, Executive Director, Sustainable Development at Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, speaking at the India Sustainability Summit organised by Policy Circle in New Delhi.

This conference started about half an hour late this morning because of unexpected rains. It is quite ironic, considering the statistics I am about to share with you. India stands as the world’s most populous nation, with a staggering 18% of the global population residing within its borders. However, it is often said that we possess a mere 4% of the planet’s resources. Predictions paint a grim picture: an estimated 40% of Indians may not have access to safe drinking water by the year 2050.

And yet, as if in a twist of fate, the heavens open up and bless us with rains. This blessing, unfortunately, brings its own set of challenges. Our streets get clogged, traffic comes to a standstill, and tragedies unfold. The irony deepens when we realise that a mere 8% of the rainfall is effectively harvested and utilised in India. We are indeed a nation blessed with abundance, yet plagued by mismanagement.

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Ancient wisdom on sustainability

Our country has made remarkable strides in education, but we seem to lack the ancient wisdom that could bridge the gap between progress and sustainability. Before I delve into the initiatives of Indian Oil Corporation, let me share a cultural insight. In the southern regions of India where I come from, it is customary to find a pond adjacent to every temple.

The ritual involves taking a dip before entering the temple. This practice, although a ritual, holds a crucial lesson in water conservation. By prescribing this act, our ancestors ensured that the ponds remained clean and suitable for use. This contrasts starkly with a scenario where people might attend temple directly from their homes, neglecting the state of the pond.

Indian Oil vision for sustainability

It is time for us to reflect on our cultural heritage as we navigate the challenges of the present and future. Now, let me shed light on IOC’s journey towards sustainability. The company has set 2046 as the deadline to reach Net Zero, it is important to acknowledge the strides we have already made. IOC had started worked on sustainable growth much before the concept of sustainability gained ground around 2007. We started solarisation of our retail outlets around that time. Today, IOC has 21,000 solarised retail outlets, boasting of a capacity of 124 megawatts of solar energy.

Our ambitions extend far beyond solarisation. When it comes to renewable energy, we have a robust portfolio of 240 megawatts, and our sights are set on scaling it to a monumental 5 gigawatts by 2046. This endeavour aligns seamlessly with our commitment to a greener future.

Water has been a focus of our relentless efforts in management. Our annual consumption hovers around 104 billion litres of water, a staggering figure by any standard. However, our dedication to sustainability shines through as we recycle 32% of this water, effectively minimising wastage. In the realm of waste management, we have achieved a commendable feat. A staggering 91% of our waste is diverted away from landfills, a testament to our commitment to responsible waste disposal.

The ethos of inclusivity echoes throughout our organisation. Our Vidushi programme designed to educate and empower underprivileged girls, stands as a testament to this commitment. Witnessing 45 girls secure admissions in prestigious institutes is a heartening reminder of the impact we can make.

As the world grappled with the devastating waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, our resolve remained unshaken. We swiftly imported and distributed 245 oxygen tanks within 15 days, serving regions most in need. This act encapsulates the spirit that propels us forward.

Our engagement extends beyond business. The Indian Oil Foundation, a guardian of our cultural heritage, remained steadfast in its efforts, ensuring that our rich legacy endures even in the face of adversity. But it is not just about preserving the past; it is about safeguarding the future. Our involvement in the reintroduction of Cheetah in India after decades of the species’ extinction symbolises our commitment to heritage and innovation.

Environmental conservation finds its embodiment in our efforts to protect coral reefs and nurture Olive Ridley Turtles. These endeavours, in collaboration with the Zoological Society, epitomise our holistic approach to sustainability.

Our refineries have given birth to sprawling ecological parks, spanning an impressive 2500 hectares. The lush greenery serves as a reminder of our promise to restore and rejuvenate our natural environment. Planting a staggering 20 lakh mangroves in Haldia not only underscores our dedication but also translates into a remarkable reduction of 10 million tons of CO2.

Amid these monumental endeavours, rainwater harvesting emerges as a beacon of hope. Our ambitious goal is to harvest and absorb a staggering 150 million kilolitres of rainwater from our marketing division’s assets. The challenge is immense, but so is our determination.

Trees, the lungs of our planet, find champions in us. We have set our sights on planting one million trees, each a guardian against 20,000 tons of CO2. The impact is profound, the symbolism even more so.

It was a moment of realisation when we found the transformative power of a simple material – recycled PET bottles. By fashioning uniforms for our staff from this innovative fabric, we unlock the potential to save a substantial 10,500 tonnes of CO2. This small change carries the weight of immense impact.

This brings me to an exciting new endeavour – our engagement with schools. By encouraging them to adopt uniforms made from similar recycled materials, we extend our commitment to the younger generation. Imagine the collective impact as each child becomes an ambassador of change, donning a uniform that not only signifies identity but also represents a pledge to a greener planet.

As I conclude, I leave you with this thought – the journey towards sustainability is not a solitary one. It is a path we must walk together, hand in hand, weaving our actions into a tapestry of change. Our story is one of purpose, of resilience, and of unwavering commitment to our nation and our planet.

(The author is Executive Director, Sustainable Development at Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. This article is the edited transcript of his speech at the India Sustainability Summit organised by Policy Circle in New Delhi.)