The first thing that one realizes on holding the Tata Power Sustainability Report for 2012-13 is that it is rather bulky. Pushing at over 200 pages, it is a rather intimidating document. And while the title talks about a decade of sustainability reporting, this is the company’s 4th report on Sustainability, the last one had come two years ago.
The report is GRI A+ Level based on GRI 3.1 standards, which mean it has reported on all core indicators. And it has been externally assured by Ernst & Young. This report also happens to be the first one featuring Dr YK Saxena, who took over as head of sustainability last year.
Scope & Boundary
The report is fairly comprehensive in all the aspects, and contains a host of sections (not directly related) on various topics. The message from the MD, Anil Sardana, is also rather succinct, with a commitment of generating 26,000 MW by 2020, of which 20-25 percent will be from non-GHG emitting resources. This is for the first time that Tata Power has included CGPL, MPL and IEL into the report, thereby, increasing the scope. Yet, considering that the company has 12 subsidiaries and various other JVs, there is still a long road that needs to be traversed. The report also encompasses the CSR aspect as well, talking about the various initiatives the company has taken on this front. Towards the beginning, there is a survey that had been conducted by the company, and which lists out the priorities according to the top management on the same
From a materiality perspective, Tata Power has recognized five core issues, namely, coal accessibility, water management, climate change, stakeholder engagement and biodiversity. While the goal and targets are there for the material issues, there is not much of a roadmap. And even then, employees seems to be a missing factor, considering that the company does so very much in terms of human capital development. On the HR front, there are a lot of initiatives that are written, but not much shared in terms of actual numbers. For instance, there is a mention of a study leave policy, wherein the employees can opt for study leave for higher education. Yet, there are no numbers shared as to how many actually took it. The report also raises the serious issue of gender diversity; there are only 290 females, as compared to 3,942 males in the company. And, while this might be a marginal improvement over the numbers in the earlier years, the company needs to do a lot more in terms of decreasing the gap. Also, one of the critical areas wherein information is missing is the upstream supply side. While the report does mention that the company has considered top 10 suppliers based on monetary values, there is not much information of who they are or how they were engaged on sustainability issues.
Tata Power has done commendable work on the water and biodiversity conservation front. It has installed rainwater harvesting and sewage treatment systems, and is aiming for zero discharge systems at all locations. The company is also the first energy sector utility from India to complete a ‘Water Foot printing Exercise’ at two of the locations, based on the methodology by Water Footprinting Network, Netherlands. Also, the company has been continuously reducing its consumption; for instance, it reduced the consumption of water at the Trombay station by 24 percent. On the biodiversity front, the company has put in multiple programmes in place right from sea turtle monitoring to conservation of Mahseer fish. It is also working to protect the bird ecosystem around the Trombay Thermal Plant. But sadly, no precise numbers are shared in the report to give a perspective of the scale and size of such efforts.
Interestingly, the company which was sort of precursor of the IT movement in India (it had hired FC Kohli, the father of Indian computing, way back in the 1960s), is doing quite a bit on green IT front, right from virtualizing the servers to going on the cloud. The company has even put an extensive spam filter, which filters outs six GB of emails per month, saving about 2,000 kWh of power. Through the use of power saving mode, the company hopes to save as much as 94,000 kWh of power worth approximately five million rupees per year.
Overall, one of the missing points in the report were case studies; except for one on the mega project, UMPP, there were no others that you could see. Also, in the previous report, Tata Power had dedicated a whole section on carbon emissions and GHG, which was only covered in brief in this one. In comparison to the earlier report, there were far lesser graphs, and pie-charts. On the design and communication front, the report could have been a bit more engaging and illustrative, with trivia, anecdotes, corporate stories, etc. In fact, with crisper editing, the pages could have been much reduced. The report has done a commendable job of cross-linking various sustainability reporting formats in the current report, right from GRI to NVG, BRR and others. In the end, considering that Tata Power is one of the foremost companies in India in the energy sector, a lot more ‘leadership’ is expected in terms of its reporting. Hopefully, in the days to come, the reports too will become as engaging as the company.
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