Jul 13
Sustainable Tomorrow
Sustainable Tomorrow
ENSCONCED in a reclining chair at the departure lounge of Frankfurt Airport, Mr Yuvraj Mehta, the Head of L&T’s Corporate Communications & Brand Management (CBMC) department, was swapping between WhatsApp and the online editions of The Independent and The Guardian on his mobile. His Air India flight to Mumbai was still an hour away. Before long, a Britisher with a gangly gait walked up and tapped his shoulder. Mr Mehta rose with a start to find the Britisher smiling and his eyes twinkling in obvious recognition.
- “Hey, David! What are you doing here?” Mr Mehta exclaimed. 
- “The same as you are – waiting for a flight! I’m on my way back to London after an assignment in Berlin,” replied Mr David Hayworth, the environment editor of a famed UK daily. “And what about you?”
- “I’m returning from a global conclave on corporate communications,” answered Mr Mehta.
- “Oh! That’s wonderful!”
Mr Mehta and Mr Hayworth had first met at the Foreign Correspondents Club of India in New Delhi two years ago. Back then, Mr Hayworth was the India correspondent with the UK daily and Mr Mehta had just joined L&T.
- “By the way, Yuvraj, I’m planning a visit to India to cover sustainable and eco-friendly practices or the lack of these by the industries there.”  
- “That’s cool! Why don’t you visit some of L&T’s campuses? After all, L&T is one of the greenest business conglomerates not only in India but also in South Asia.”
- “Done! Give me your business card and keep mine.”   
Just as they swapped cards, the airport’s public address system blared: “All passengers travelling by Air India to Mumbai are requested to proceed for boarding.”
- “See you in India soon!” Mr Mehta waved at Mr Hayworth as they departed. 
About five months later and after the exchange of several emails, Mr Hayworth finally landed in Mumbai – the starting point for his visit to L&T campuses spread all over India. He would, however, visit only the major campuses, for, L&T has so many that it wouldn’t be possible to cover all in his nearly 15-day tour. Mr Mehta and his team at CBMC had already identified people to walk the British journalist through the selected campuses in Mumbai, Lonavla, Hazira, Vadodara, Bengaluru, Mysuru, Coimbatore and Chennai.
DAY 1 - Mumbai
Post-breakfast the next morning, Mr Hayworth started from his hotel at Worli Seface and asked the chauffeur to drive straight to L&T House, the conglomerate’s corporate headquarters at Ballard Estate in South Mumbai. Mr K V Reddy was his points-person there.  
As the car drove into Ballard Estate, Mr Hayworth was amazed by the elegantly designed L&T House, with trees casting their soothing shadow on the pavement below.
“Being Mumbai’s most sought-after business district developed long ago, there’s not much scope for green cover here. Yet, we have managed to develop a green cover of about 200 sq ft,” Mr Reddy explained as he walked the British journalist through the 40,000 sq ft property.
“We are also working to install a 66-kW rooftop solar plant and a rainwater harvesting facility,” he added. Mr Hayworth said that he understood the limited scope the area provides for environmental measures. Winding up the tour in about an hour, he headed next to Powai in North Mumbai to visit the AMN Tower and L&T’s Gate 5 campus that houses the L&T Business Park. AMN Tower is L&T’s new multi-storied corporate office. Mr Girish Fernandes and Mr Hilary Castelino ushered Mr Hayworth into the 0.203 million sq ft smart campus that has a green cover of 50,936 sq ft in the form of lawns, a garden and trees. The 19-storied smart structure (including basement and parking levels) is a platinum-rated green building that stands in testimony to L&T’s sustainability focus. 
“This building has an 80-kW rooftop solar plant generating 0.13 million kWh electricity per annum and a 320 KLD sewage treatment plant equipped with online monitoring of the treated water which is reused for flushing, gardening, and heating ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC). Then, we have a 60 m3 tank to store rainwater which is used for domestic chores and there are percolation pits along the stormwater drain to recharge groundwater”, Mr Fernandes explained, as the trio took the elevator to the rooftop. Maneuvering through the solar panels on the rooftop, Mr Hayworth marveled at the magnificent Powai Lake to the east. It was now Mr Castelino’s turn to brief.  
“AMN Tower consumes 23% less energy as compared to other buildings of similar scale. We have installed ultraviolet germicidal irradiation tubes in the central AC system for the health and safety of all who work here. Also, there’s a 450 kg/day organic waste composter that turns kitchen waste into manure. E-waste and plastic waste are segregated and handed over to authorised vendors for proper disposal or reuse,” he elaborated, as Mr Hayworth absorbed the enormity of the measures.
Having whetted Mr Hayworth’s journalistic appetite, the duo then accompanied him to the third-floor cafeteria for lunch. And on the other side of a sumptuous Indian meal, it was now time for him to visit the Gate 5 campus located close by. Mr Fernandes accompanied Mr Hayworth and as they were walking into the Gate 5 campus, he pointed out that the approximately 100-metre approach-road from the entry gate had been constructed from discarded plastic. That was in 2018.
On reaching the Gate 5 campus, Mr Fernandes handed the British journalist to Mr Satinder Juneja, the next points-person.
“This is a 0.21 million sq ft campus that houses establishments of L&T Infotech Ltd (LTI), a subsidiary of the conglomerate. It’s our pride that we have about 65% green cover here,” Mr Juneja revealed, after exchanging the customary greetings. Mr Hayworth keenly observed everything as they strolled across the sprawling campus. Mr Juneja said that they had a rainwater harvesting system since 2006 and a 75 KLD sewage treatment plant commissioned in 2018. Since 2017, they have also been using 1.8-2 million units of solar and wind power through an open-access purchase agreement with an external agency.
“Although we have discontinued PET bottles at conferences / meetings and are eliminating plastic garbage bags at individual workstations, PET bottle crushers have been installed to dispose the ones occasionally used by visitors or staffers,” he said. 
“At LTI’s Mahape campus in Navi Mumbai, which is not part of your itinerary, we have a green cover of about 58,000 sq ft out of the total area of 0.215 million sq ft. Since 2018, we also have a 90 KLD sewage treatment plant there,” he added. By now, the two of them had walked into the campus cafeteria. Mr Hayworth opted for a cup of Darjeeling tea and Mr Juneja went for a masala tea.  Mr Juneja resumed.
“Our green initiatives aren’t confined to our campuses. In partnership with NGOs, we are doing a lot outside the campuses as well. In Maharashtra and Karnataka, we have installed 56.7 MW solar panels in public schools, have helped develop 420 ponds with a capacity to provide 1.2 million KL irrigation water and have planted 400,000-odd trees that sequestrate 3,382 tonnes CO2”, Mr Juneja paused as the journalist flagged a query. “Why in Karnataka?” Mr Hayworth asked. “That’s because LTI has a campus in Bengaluru as well and you would get to see that”, replied Mr Juneja. 
The sun was slowly setting over the horizon. Mr Hayworth looked at his watch and realised that he had had a long day. He bid adieu to Mr Juneja and headed straight to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. Next morning, he would start for L&T’s Learning & Development Academy (LDA) at Lonavla. 
DAY 2 – Lonavla
It took Mr Hayworth about 2.5-hours to cover the 95-km distance from Mumbai to Lonavla. At the very first glimpse of the LDA campus, his exhaustion evaporated. “Such a lovely place!” he murmured spontaneously as points-person Ms Natasha Almeida greeted him. “Shall we start over a hot cup of Darjeeling tea?” Ms Almeida asked. “That would be so nice!” responded the journalist. And a little later, over tea, she began explaining the LDA’s sustainability focus.
“LDA is where our budding corporate leaders undergo training amidst the picturesque and sylvan surroundings of the Western Ghats, which is a famous biodiversity hotspot. Spread over 0.87 million sq ft of a well-planned, architecturally aesthetic and extensively leafy complex, LDA has around 0.67 million sq ft of green cover. That’s a whopping 77.3%,” Ms Almeida revealed. As the conversation continued, the two finished their tea and set off for a trek of the LDA campus that proved both educative and pleasant.
“In the monsoons, it rains a lot here and hence, between 2013 and 2019, we installed three rainwater harvesting facilities – 460 CuM, 3,360 CuM and 20,160 CuM. We adhere to minimal use of plastic bottles and have installed water dispensers in all the training halls. Bio-degradable bags are used for accumulating trash.  Installation of LED bulbs in the last two years has reduced 12.46 tonnes CO2 emissions and water aerators in washbasin taps are saving 40% water,” she continued.
LDA campus is ideally suited for harvesting solar energy. In 2019, L&T installed two online grid solar systems of 30 kW, and cumulatively they generate 42,000 kWh of electricity per annum. Then there’s a 35 KLD recycling facility and the treated wastewater is reused to quench the thirst of the green cover and for flushing.
- “Such a lovely campus! I feel like staying over tonight but I’m already scheduled to travel to Hazira in Gujarat today itself,” Mr Hayworth commented as they walked to the dining hall for lunch. 
- “Sure, please be our guest tonight. You can start for Hazira tomorrow morning, for it’s a 370-odd km journey and would take no less than seven hours,” Ms Almeida replied.
The British journalist heeded the practical advice. At night, as he sat in the veranda of an LDA cottage gazing at the starry sky, he was reminded of a calm summer night at his native Derbyshire.
DAY 3 & 4 – Hazira
It took Mr Hayworth nearly eight hours, including a lunchbreak on the way, to reach Hazira. He had started from Lonavla at 8 am and when the chauffeur drove into L&T’s Hazira Manufacturing Complex, the clock was ticking at 4 pm.
- “You must be exhausted by the long drive,” said Ms Alpa Gandhi, his points-person at Hazira, “And there’s barely two hours left for the day. I think it be would better to start the campus tour tomorrow.”
- “Yes, that’s better,” nodded Mr Hayworth. Soon after, he was guided to a guesthouse on the campus.
The next morning, with a balmy breeze blowing in from the Arabian Sea, Mr Hayworth and Ms Gandhi set off in an electric buggy for a tour of the sprawling 755-acre Complex which has factories, a shipyard and integrated residential area with all necessary amenities. It has a total green cover of about 12%.
“We have about 31,540 trees on the campus and we keep on adding to this every year,” Ms Gandhi said as the journalist glanced around, visibly impressed. And there’s good reason for this!
The complex boasts of a 402 kW on-site solar plant since 2010 and another 5,575 kW off-site solar plant functional since 2019. Together they generate 9.864 million kWh power per annum. Then, also since 2010, there’s been a sewage treatment plant with a recycling capacity of 1,850 m3 per day and a rainwater harvesting mechanism with an annual capacity of 41,218 CuM.
Mr Hayworth halted here and there to speak to the staffers with his guide sometimes assuming the role of interpreter. Of particular interest to him were the dedicated pipelines for large hydro tests in the factory lines which have eliminated the use of water tankers and, in turn, reduced direct GHG emissions and water losses. There are electric carts and e-bikes for internal movement, the staff canteens here are PNG-operated, and in-house vermicomposting, and handling and management of hazardous waste are undertaken through external service providers. The establishment is also into a power purchase agreement for 7.37 MW renewable power from outside.
“As regards measures outside the campus, we have developed a 1.5-km roadside green belt along National Highway-53, maintain the green islands at traffic junctions in Surat city and have installed 146 kW solar power plant in various schools,” Ms Gandhi revealed, as the British journalist took notes.
It was a long day for them with there being only a quick break for lunch. By the time the tour was complete, a golden sun was melting into the Arabian Sea.
“Tomorrow is another day, and I will be at L&T’s Knowledge City campus in Vadodara,” Mr Hayworth murmured to himself.
DAY 5 – Vadodara
Thanks to the expert driver, despite traffic the British journalist’s hired car rolled smoothly into the L&T Knowledge City campus in Vadodara in about 3.5 hours. They had set out from Hazira post-breakfast and reached just in time for lunch. Mr Kushan Patel, his points-person here, took Mr Hayworth straight to a staff canteen. 
- “May not be as large as Hazira Complex, but at 4.35 million sq ft our campus too is quite expansive,” Mr Patel remarked, as they savoured a pure vegetarian meal. “It has a SEZ (special economic zone) and a non-SEZ zone and houses entities like L&T Power, L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering, L&T - Sargent & Lundy, L&T-Chiyoda, L&T Technological Services Ltd (LTTS) and a residential zone.”
- “And how large is the green cover here?” Mr Hayworth asked.
- “About 0.7 million sq ft or 16%,” came the reply.
After some more chitchat, the two set out for a campus stroll. As they walked, Mr Patel explained the environmental measures that had been put into place. Altogether, there are 18 solar panels, which were installed in 2012 and 2017 for street-lighting, and they generate about 583.2 kW electricity annually. While the campus received 1.3 MLD of water, 50% of this (0.65 MLD) would be treated post usage and piped back to the campus for horticulture. The wastewater is treated by seven plants – four for sewage and three for water treatment – made operational between 2010 and 2017.
The campus has three waterbodies cumulatively occupying 180,000 sq ft. Together, they can hold 55-million litres and are used for rainwater harvesting that are put to daily use post treatment. Approximately 10-million litres rainwater are harvested annually.  
As the day wore on and the sun moved westward, Mr Hayworth, pulled out his kerchief to wipe his face. After a short pause, Mr Patel resumed his patient briefing.
“L&T Power maintains a 50,000 sq ft airport garden and a green traffic circle of 4,000 sq ft near VUDA Circle in Vadodara city,” he added. Single-use plastic is banned in the entire campus. Outside, LTTS ran a solid waste management project at Dumad village. Under the initiative, all reusable plastic waste generated by 1,500 households is sent for recycling and converted into useful items such as benches, toys and t-shirts, among other things.
DAY 6, 7 & 8 – Bengaluru
The next morning, Mr Hayworth flew to Bengaluru to visit the campuses of LTI, Mindtree, and L&T Construction Equipment Ltd (LTCEL). On landing, Mr Hayworth took a cab to a boutique hotel at Koramangala area, dumped his luggage and had a quick lunch. Next, he hired cab to the LTI campus at Whitefield; Mr Juneja, whom he had met in Mumbai, was his points-person here as well.
“Here, our campus runs into around 554,000 sq ft and of this, 244,000 sq ft is green cover. In 2018, a 200 KLD wastewater recycling plant was installed. And in early 2019, a 900 KLD rainwater harvesting system was put in place,” Mr Juneja said as they strolled the campus.
Mr Hayworth spotted some workers busy installing solar panels. “This is for an upcoming 100 kW solar plant,” explained his guide. By the time they wrapped up the tour, it was late in the afternoon and hence, despite the Mindtree East campus located in the same area, the journalist decided to call it a day.
The following day, Mr Hayworth reached the Mindtree Whitefield campus at around 9.30 am. Ms Swetha Ganesan ushered him into the campus. “We have three main campuses in India: two in Bengaluru and one at Bhubaneswar in Odisha. This is our Bengaluru East campus,” she said, as they set out for a tour. The east campus is around 525,261 sq ft and has 3,947 sq ft green cover.
Mindtree has invested in renewable energy through in-situ solar plants, hydro/wind clean energy via a power purchase agreement, and effective recycling of water. It meets 70% of the east campus energy requirement from solar power, and reuses wastewater for gardening and flushing after treatment by a 160 KLD sewage treatment plant located in the campus.
“Because of our consistent effort, our per capita water consumption has declined from 1.28 kl/employee/month in 2013-14 to 0.82 kl/employee/month in 2019-20. This is despite the increased employee base,” Ms Ganesan said, beaming with satisfaction. “A rainwater harvesting facility is operational in the east campus since 2015 and has an annual capacity of 1,488 KL.”
The Mindtree Bengaluru west campus, located at Mysore Road, runs into 522,720 sq ft with a green cover of 174,240 sq ft. Here, 2,627 KL rainwater is harvested annually, and the campus runs on 76% hydropower.
“Our Kalinga campus in Bhubaneswar is even more eco-friendly. It runs into 871,200 sq ft, of which 136,778 sq ft is green landscape. There’s a 550-kW solar power plant designed to meet 30% of the power requirement and produces up to 2200 kW units/ day. An additional 200 kW solar plant is planned in the coming year,” Ms Ganesan added.
At Mindtree Kalinga, organic vegetables and fruits are grown in abundance, while a variety of fish are bred in the ‘eternal pond’ that has an annual capacity of 1,900 KL. The produce is donated to the local unit of the Missionaries of Charity.  The IT company is now working towards making the campus water- neutral.
Overall, since 2015, Mindtree has been saving almost one million watts of electricity per annum through UPS optimisation. This helps reducing CO2 emissions by 902-tonnes annually, besides reducing hazardous battery waste. 
Mr Hayworth ended the seventh day of his L&T tour, rather overwhelmed by the tonnes of information. The next day would be his last day in Bengaluru with a scheduled visit to the campus of L&T Construction Equipment Ltd (LTCEL) at rural Doddaballapur.
On the eighth day, Mr Hayworth drove into Doddaballapur and found Mr H Shridhara Hande, Chief Executive, eagerly waiting for him. Mr Hande had all the information on his fingertips. “Our campus is 671,909 sq ft and the total green cover is 67,427 sq ft. We are into a long-term solar power purchase agreement with a farm in Karnataka’s Koppala district with an annual installed capacity of 36,00,000 units. The wheeling of energy started in 2018. We also wheel energy from two other solar plants,” he said in a single breath. The campus has a wastewater recycling plant since 2015, and its daily capacity is 70 KL, and there is a rainwater harvesting and a borewell recharging facility on the campus.
“We care for the neighbourhood as well. We have planted 1,000 saplings on the periphery of Muttur Lake, rejuvenated the local Bashettihalli Lake, have installed a 40 kVA solar plant at the Govt Hospital in Doddaballapura, three 4 kVA rooftop solar systems in the government schools here and 50 solar streetlights along Raghunathpur village road. We have also put in place rainwater harvesting and borewell recharging mechanisms in two local schools,” Mr Hande revealed.
DAY 9 – Mysuru
The cab took about 3.5 hours to reach LTTS’ Mysuru campus at the KIADB Industrial Area. Although he had to halt for a night in Mysuru before flying off to Chennai, Mr Hayworth decided to first wrap up the visit and then check into a hotel. His points-person, Ms Sayanti Chakraborty, proved quick and precise to the point. The Mysuru campus is spread over 30 acres and 35% of it is green cover with verdant lawns dotted with large, shady trees.
“Here, a sewage treatment facility, with a 60 KLD capacity, was put in place as far back as 1989. The treated water is used for gardening. Also, there are three rainwater harvesting ponds with a cumulative capacity of 5-million litres,” she said, as Mr Hayworth listened intently. As they walked along the several buildings, Ms Chakraborty continued: “This apart, we also act as a responsible corporate entity. LTTS is supporting a solar power project at Mysuru’s Kanthanahadi village. Then, in Bengaluru’s Hebbal area we have adopted the Veeranapalya Flyover project for its development and maintenance. Under this programme, a garbage-dumping site below the flyover has become India’s first wildlife-themed arena.”
It didn’t end there. Ms Chakraborty added that LTTS planted 250+ palm trees on the road median between Koparkhairane to Rabale police station in Navi Mumbai, and has been able to improve the air quality, conserve water by mixed usage of tanker water and drip irrigation, and manage waste by converting five tonnes of leaves into manure for nurturing the trees. 
Content with these green nuggets of information, Mr Hayworth bade goodbye to his guide and checked into a hotel in one of India’s cleanest cities for the night.
DAY 10 & 11 – Chennai
With a stopover in Hyderabad, Mr Hayworth’s flight landed in Chennai well past noon. Exhausted by the long flight, he chose to check into a hotel and decided to visit the L&T Construction campus at Manapakkam in the city the next day. Besides, before the tour, he wanted to catch up on some background reading related to L&T Construction, the Group’s ‘jewel in the crown’ vertical.
When Mr Hayworth drove into the Manapakkam campus the following morning, Mr Christ Kevin A received him at the administrative building and soon they set off on an electric buggy for a tour of the campus whose total area is 11,85,720 sq ft and a green cover is about 27%.
“We have four of these buggies for internal movement,” he said. “A solar power plant, directly connected to the grid, was started in 2008, and by 2018, the system was placed on all rooftops and other locations within the campus. Its capacity is 0.70 MW and produces 430,530 kWh power annually. Then, we have two sewage treatment plants with a cumulative capacity of 600 KLD. The treated water is used for landscaping and flushing.” 
Mr Kevin took the journalist to a few of the 114 rainwater harvesting pits that have a daily percolation capacity of 769 KL during the monsoons and help recharge the groundwater. The campus has its own nursery where saplings are grown and then planted throughout the complex. 
“Then, going beyond the usual, at the behest of our senior management, a 1,500 kg biogas plant was installed on the campus. There’s also in place a smart lighting system and the air quality is regularly monitored to ensure that emissions are within permissible limits,” Mr Kevin added. That evening, Mr Hayworth took an hour-long flight to Coimbatore, which was the last L&T campus on his itinerary.
DAY-12 – Coimbatore
The next morning, he started from his hotel post-breakfast and reached the L&T Coimbatore campus located at Malumichampatti area. The campus is huge – a total area of 10.47 million sq ft, out of which 1.65 million sq ft is green cover. Mr Paul Varghese, the Head of L&T Coimbatore Central Management, decided that he would show Mr Hayworth around the campus. He started with the Precision Manufacturing & Systems Complex building which has a 30 kW solar plant operational since 2015 and generates 54,000 units per year.
“The Coimbatore Central Management building has two solar plants with a cumulative capacity of 13 KW. These were installed in 2013 and 2014, and between them, generate 22,800 units annually,” Mr Varghese said.
“There’s zero tolerance for effluent discharge even as the sewage treatment plants installed in 2007-08 recycle the wastewater.” Completely plastic-free, the campus has three rainwater harvest ponds, he said, adding with a degree of pride that L&T is an active partner in a solid waste management project at Malumichampatti village panchayat.
“This will maximise waste recovery by composting, recycling and reusing, and aims to minimise waste dumped at landfills. We have already conducted basic awareness drives, distributed garbage bins and have started doorstep garbage collection from 3,000 households. Segregated at source, so far 16 tonnes of waste have been recycled,” Mr Varghese said, with Mr Hayworth being very impressed by this social welfare initiative by L&T in such a rural pocket.
“This is probably the best note on which to conclude my tour of L&T campuses in India. After all, I undertook the trip to find out whether socially conscious corporates exist in this part of the world or not,” Mr Hayworth said as he took leave of the campus.
DAY-13 & 14 – Goodbye, Mumbai
The next day, Mr Hayworth flew to Mumbai and checked into his hotel at Worli seaface. Early that evening, he caught up with Mr Mehta at Leopold Cafe in Colaba.
- “I must commend you for the professionalism displayed by the interlocutors at each of the L&T campuses”, Mr Hayworth said, as they savoured sumptuous fare.
- “Thank you!” replied Mr Mehta. “But tell me, how did you find our campuses?”
- “Simply overwhelming! I am grateful to you for the enlightenment on sustainable measures in the Indian industrial spectrum.”
- “The pleasure is all mine, David. Please inform me once your report is published.”
- “That goes without saying. By the way, I shall be flying back to London in the wee hours of tomorrow.”
- “Have a safe flight and ping me once you are home.”
Shortly thereafter, the two of them departed – Mr Hayworth to his hotel and Mr Mehta to his North Mumbai home. When Mr Hayworth’s flight for London took off from Mumbai airport well past midnight, he looked down through a window at the dazzling city lights and breathed a silent goodbye!
DISCLAIMER: The journalist, Mr David Hayworth, his chance meeting with Mr Yuvraj Mehta at Frankfurt Airport, and his subsequent visit to the L&T campuses in India – are all a work of fiction, coined and stitched together to narrate the story of L&T’s environmental and sustainable initiatives in an interesting way. However, all the environmental and sustainable measures by L&T mentioned in this article are 100% factual.


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