Environmental Concerns



Today, the importance of water has been recognised the world over, and greater emphasis is being laid on its economic use and better management. Providing water in the right quantity and  quality has been the constant endeavour of all civilizations through the ages. No other natural resource has had such an overwhelming influence on human history.

As the human population increases and as economic activities continue to expand in scale and diversity, the demands on freshwater resources will continue to grow.

While water is a renewable resource, its availability is limited, being largely determined by climatic, geographical and physical conditions; by technology that permits its exploitation; and by the efficiency with which it is conserved and used. In the monsoon of 2005, India faced its worst water crisis ever.

In such a grim scenario, MANECK H. ENGINEER, Vice President, Construction Division, shares Godrej’s initiatives in conserving water from 1948 onwards, when the construction of industrial and
residential buildings at Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli, commenced.

Water Management in 
Godrej — 

Towards A Greener 

nvironmental degradation is a major concern for planners and administrators, especially in big cities. The sustainable development and conservation of nature in the urban environment are burning issues today. Many people talk about it, but unfortunately very few care about it. Politicians, environmentalists and corporations pass the buck to each other, and people often get away with accusing industrialists for the deteriorating environment as they are regarded as the prime source of pollution. However, they are also regarded as indicators of development. Sustainable growth can only be achieved if the environment is protected.

There have been fair achievements in Europe and the United States with corporations playing an active role in halting environmental damage and helping to revive the ecology, but in India the lack of consumer awareness and circumvention of environmental regulations at various levels leaves much to be desired. Bypassing regulations may provide short-term benefits but in the long term it may increase the liability of the legacy that we leave behind for future generations.

Success Story
In contrast to the general Indian scenario, the Godrej industrial garden township at Vikhroli, a suburb of Mumbai, has not only cultivated the concepts of corporate social and environmental responsibility along with good corporate governance, but also perpetuated it over the years. It is the amalgamation of the socio-environmental ethos inculcated by Godrej and the Environment Management System adopted by the management that has led the environmental story of Godrej to success.

The industrial garden township of Pirojshanagar was established as a harmonious combination of man, machine and nature. Thousands of trees in many varieties grow in the township. Manicured lawns and beautiful landscapes are a visual treat, so much so that visitors to the township often say they cannot believe they are in Mumbai.

The Corporate Environment Policy of Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. came into existence in 1998. However, the Company’s environmental concern and actions began with the conception of the Vikhroli establishment way back in 1948, as evidenced in the planning of the Pirojshanagar industrial township. In the following paragraphs, some of the efforts initiated by Godrej — much before the authorities awakened to the problem and statutory requirements were sought to be enforced — are discussed.

In 1980 the Company conducted a legal and technical requirement survey as well as studies on water recycling from effluents. In 1986 a water audit of the industrial township was conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry. In the same year, the first Common Effluent Treatment Plant, with a capacity of 1,200 cubic metres per day, was commissioned for treating and recycling wastewater at the Vikhroli establishment. In 1987, the Electroplating Effluent Treatment Plant, with a capacity of 400 cubic metres per day for treating pretreatment effluent generated from pretreatment processes, was added.

In 1989, the first Sewage Treatment and Recycling Plant, with a capacity of 500 cubic metres per day for recycling sewage water from industrial premises, was put into effect. This was a voluntary initiative to reduce the sewage load, avoid dependence on municipal water supply and make treated wastewater available for use in landscaping the industrial township to the west of the railway line. In 1996, following the successful implementation of the first Sewage Treatment and Recycling Plant in the west, a second plant with a similar capacity of 500 cubic metres per day was set up for the area to the east.

In the pre-Policy era, the environmental performance was mainly based on the interests of top management in Godrej. There was a paradigm shift in the approach towards environmental performance after the Corporate Environment Policy came into effect, and the whole approach was focused on forming an Environment Management System. Subsequently, the EMS model of the International Standards Organisation was formally adopted for the various businesses as well as the township.

Wastewater Recycling in Godrej
Water management involves rationalising the usage of freshwater and production of wastewater so as to minimise the overall costs associated with both the water intake and wastewater disposal. Growing environmental pressures and escalating intake costs are resulting in a reappraisal of water requirements with a view to effective water management.

Wastewater can be treated and recycled for use in auxiliary applications. Given that water is an essential commodity for overall development, its reclamation, recycling and reuse must be visualised as an important option and can no longer be dismissed as a mere technological process that is too expensive or economically unviable.

At Godrej, several measures are taken to reduce the consumption of water by recycling and reusing.

Industrial Wastewater Treatment and Discharge
Industrial effluents are mainly generated from metal pretreatment and electroplating operations. The effluent from the electroplating and heat treatment areas is separately collected and treated using the alkaline chlorination method for oxidising the cyanide. Similarly, the hexavalent chromium-bearing effluent is collected separately and pretreated using the ferrous sulphate reduction method. The treated water from these plants and all other liquid effluents from various manufacturing divisions are then conveyed to the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) for further treatment. The plant has a capacity to treat 1,200 cubic metres per day.

The Common Effluent Treatment

Domestic Sewage Treatment and Recycling
Domestic sewage pollution can be avoided by the application of various levels of treatment for removing solids, bacteria, viruses and nutrients. These treatments aim to produce wastewater that is clean enough to meet the water quality standards required for horticultural purposes. There are presently three sewage treatment plants functioning in the Company. Two units, with a capacity of 500 cubic metres a day each, treat municipal wastewater and wastewater from the residential colony and supply treated water for gardening requirements on the west and east sides of the industrial area respectively. The third unit, with a capacity of approximately 600 cubic metres a day, treats wastewater from the Godrej Garden Enclave and the Godrej Memorial Trust Hospital for reuse in gardening and toilets. The Sequential Batch Reactor process adopting the well-proven "completed mixed aeration systems" technology treats the domestic sewage in these plants. The aerobically biodegraded treated sewage water is filtered and disinfected before reuse. Design specifications for sewage treatment are too technical to go into here. The operating cost for implementing such wastewater treatment and recycling units is Rs. 8 per cubic metre as compared to the cost of tanker water used for flushing of Rs. 50 per cubic metre. Apart from the cost advantage, there are other benefits such as a reduced load on municipal systems and an alternative source of water for auxiliary application available round the year.

Rainwater Harvesting
The principle of collecting and using precipitation from a catchment’s surface, known as rainwater harvesting, is essential because surface water is inadequate to meet our demand and we have to depend on groundwater.

Also, due to rapid urbanisation, infiltration of rainwater into the subsoil has decreased drastically and recharging of groundwater has diminished. Rainwater is drained off into storm-water drains and hence is wasted.

This necessitates the two main techniques of rainwater harvesting, namely the storage of rainwater on the surface for immediate use and at the subsurface by recharge of groundwater for future use. 

For the residential project of the Godrej Garden Enclave, the Company decided to implement a comprehensive, highly complicated rainwater harvesting scheme with the purpose of utilising this abundant natural source of water for flushing requirements of the residential buildings and recharging the groundwater through bore wells and open wells.

Plant at Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli.

Recharge through trench.

As per the recommendation of the Municipal Commissioner of Greater Mumbai, the plan to be implemented by the rainwater harvesting cell is as under:

Towers A1 to A9: Rooftop rainwater from the west side to be  collected in existing/new elevated tanks of 20,000-litre capacity each by diverting the rainwater pipes.

Necessary first flush arrangement to be provided to flush out dirty rooftop rainwater for Towers A1 to A9.

The existing/proposed elevated tanks to be connected to the underground suction tank for flushing purpose.

Open well situated on the plot to be cleaned and repaired. The well to be connected by diverting the nearest rainwater down-take pipes of Tower A1.

The bore well situated between A1 and A2 to be connected by diverting the nearest rainwater down-take pipes of Tower A2.

In addition to the bore well, consider the possibility of having a shallow dug-up well or ring well for supplementing water required for flushing.

The cost for implementing the rainwater harvesting system includes the diversion of rainwater down-take pipes, the construction of a pit for bore well recharge and the installation of an online filtration unit. The benefits include sustainability of the bore well for a longer duration, utilisation of less polluted rainwater for auxiliary purposes, improvement in groundwater quality by recharging due to rainwater, a cheap and relatively maintenance-free system, and no requirement of continuous monitoring or skilled manpower for operations.

Environmental factors and ecological imperatives have to be incorporated into the designing of all developmental projects giving due importance to the environmental impact they will have. All activities that may cause damage to the ecosystem will have to be carefully regulated and redesigned to minimise environmental disruption such as loss of genetic diversity, air and water pollution and other problems, which might threaten the health and well-being of our environment. Environmental planning is essential to achieve sustainable development as well as ensure a better quality of life.

The foresight and vision shown by Godrej are a symbol of enduring ideals in a changing world.