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Green Initiatives Can't Wait For Pandemic To End; To Implement New Programme: HCL Foundation

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will be roped in for implementing the HCL Harit programme. It has so far received proposals from 30 NGOs, and the projects will be given to those who have implementing capabilities

Photo Credit : Livemint

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The green initiatives cannot wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to get over, and the newly launched programme 'HCL Harit' will be implemented following all COVID-19-safety protocols, HCL Foundation Director Nidhi Pundhir said on Sunday.

The new flagship programme 'HCL Harit' was implemented on a pilot basis in seven districts across the country, before launching it formally last week in nine states.

The programme will work on increasing green cover; conservation and rejuvenation of waterbodies; improving coastal and marine habitats for native biodiversity besides improving lives of stray animals and creating environment awareness.

HCL Foundation is the philanthropic arm of IT firm HCL Technologies.

Speaking with PTI, Pundhir said: 'Even as the pandemic may get over hopefully. But, the rate at which environmental depreciation is happening, if we don't pay attention, I think it will be too late.' The idea to implement a green programme was there before COVID-19. The Foundation worked on a pilot basis in some districts and there was a growing demand for such programmes, she said.

'We would have launched it last year but we waited for the pandemic to subside a bit. Too much depreciation in the environment is happening, we cannot wait further. For us, we already had a sense of urgency,' she noted.

Pundhir further mentioned that in the last two-and-a-half years of pilot work, ponds have been rejuvenated and urban forests have been created. It also created job opportunities for people who lost jobs during the pandemic.

'If we had waited for some time, we would have only delayed this work for reasons that actually don't matter much,' she said.

To plant a sapling this monsoon, by the next year, it is already contributing and therefore cannot wait for the pandemic to get over, she added.

Pundhir, however, said all COVID-19 safety norms will be followed while implementing the programme. The Foundation's larger focus will be in districts where HCL has a presence. For example, Chennai, Lucknow, Madurai, Nagpur and Coimbatore cities.

During the pilot, the Foundation worked in seven districts including Gautam Buddh Nagar (UP) and Lucknow (UP), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Bengalure (Karnataka), Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), Nagpur (Maharashtra), Chamoli (Uttarakhand).

According to the Foundation, the 'HCL Harit' programme will not have a district approach but will work in ecological zones of importance at the state level. For example, western ghats or coastal lines that need attention.

The 'HCL Harit' programme willl be implemented in 9 states -- Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal and Uttarakhand.

It is going to be a long-term programme and yearly targets have been set. 'Definitely, the programme will be there for the next five years,' she said.

For implementing the green initiatives on the ground during the pandemic, Pundhir said travel of course is a key challenge. But, thanks to technology, the Foundation is able to connect and monitor the work via video conference. Except during lockdown, most team members have been working on ground.

'I don't foresee any major challenge, and the pandemic has become a new normal and we have to continue to work. But, the only thing is travel, where one feels a little limited,' she added.

The Foundation will have public-private partnership so that accountability gets established and the system gets strengthened. It will approach forest department and district administration wherever there is opportunity to work closely with the government and have a public-private partnership.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will be roped in for implementing the HCL Harit programme. It has so far received proposals from 30 NGOs, and the projects will be given to those who have implementing capabilities, she added.

The other flagship programmes of the HCL Foundation have a focus on rural and urban areas. It also provides grants to NGOs in recognition of the community-led ecosystems. 

(PTI)