ONGC bags prestigious FICCI CSR award for environmental sustainability for its Eastern Swamp Deer Conservation

ONGC received the FICCI CSR award for environmental sustainabilityAt the Award ceremony receiving award from Hon’ble Minister for Rural Development,Minister for Panchayati Raj and Minister for Drinking water and Sanitation Narendra Singh Tomar

For the first time, ONGC has bagged the prestigious FICCI CSR award under category “Environmental Sustainability,  2015-16” for its “Eastern Swamp Deer  Conservation Project”. The award was received by Mr. D D Misra, Director (HR),accompanied by team CSR and Mr. Vivek  Menon, Founder Trustee, WTI from Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar,the Hon’ble Minister  for Rural Development, Minister for Panchayati Raj and Minister for Drinking  water and Sanitation,Government of India, at a glittering award ceremony held  at Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) House, New Delhi on 21 December 2016.

Eastern Swamp Deer

The  Eastern Swamp Deer (Rucervus duvauceli ranjitsinhi) a sub-species of Swamp Deer  is currently inhabited only in Assam. The species is listed in schedule-I of  the ‘Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972). The swamp deer differs from all the  Indian deer species in that the antlers carry  more than three times.Because of this distinctive character it is designated Barasingha, meaning  "twelve-tined." Rapid seizure of grasslands for agricultural usage , frequent floods and excessive hunting has resulted in heavy decline in their population, bringing the sub-species on the  verge of extinction and today the major population is confined to Kaziranga  National Park, Assam. At the turn of the century the population of Eastern  Swamp Deer were estimated to be around 500 at Kaziranga National Park (Assam).

Wild  Life Trust (WTI), a non-for profit organization working in the field of wild  life conservation, approached ONGC for conservation of this endangered species.  A detailed project plan was prepared to safeguard the Eastern Swamp Deer from extinction. ONGC undertook the project  as one of the flagship CSR initiative under environment category. The first  phase of the project was, launched in the year 2010 at Kaziranga National Park in an  effort to understand the ecology of the eastern swamp deer and develop  management strategies for conservation of the sub-species. The study aimed to  understand the population dynamics, habitat requirements, food requirements,  threats and factors limiting growth and distribution of Eastern swamp deer in  Kaziranga National Park. The first phase of the project was implemented at a  cost Rs.96.62 lacs.

After  the conclusion of the first phase in 2014, domain experts emphasized on establishing  a separate viable population elsewhere in other areas which would be essential  for conservation of the sub-species. Accordingly, Manas National Park has been  identified as the new site for translocation of Eastern Swam Deer which has  been taken up in the Phase II of the project. 

At Manas National park, the translocated Eastern Swamp Deer being released.The translocated Eastern Swamp Deer being released in The booma at Manas National park

In  March 2015, when the project team from Manas, informed on wireless the news of  birth of two fawn, it was a moment of joy at the CSR office. Two weeks later,  another little fawn joined the team. By the month of July, there were 6 news  fawn in the heard. But with the onset of monsoon two fawn and two adult died.  Finally, in August 2015 the entire group was released from the booma. The  released deer were monitored in the wild through camera traps and physical  searches using captive elephants. The deer established themselves in the  southern grasslands of Manas National Park . A series of awareness programs  were carried out in fringe villages of the park for generating awareness among  children about conservation of eastern swamp deer and other wildlife of the  area. The total financial implication for the second phase of the project  was Rs.85.60 lacs.

As  per the information received from WTI , the released deer are maintaining good  health and have adapted to their new surroundings at Manas National Park. It  was this phase of the project which was evaluated by FICCI for CSR awards where  ONGC was declared winner in the category of Environmental Sustainability.

After  the successful implementation of the second phase of the project, the third phase  of the project is being launched for trans-locating 20 more deer from Kaziranga  National Park to Manas National Park with financial support of Rs 44,74,867/- . This will further help in creating a sustainable population of eastern swamp deer at Manas National Park.

FICCI annually confers CSR awards under eight  different categories to both public and private sector companies for their  exemplary work in the field of CSR. The Eastern Swamp Deer Conservation Project  of ONGC was chosen by an eminent jury of FICCI through a three tier process which includes, initial paper presentation, followed by field visit carried out by  third a party and further detailed  presentation by ONGC CSR in front of the panel of experts.

Team members of ONGC and WTI, at FICCITeam members of ONGC and WTI during the Award Ceremony at FICCI

Mr.D D Misra, Director(HR),being an avid wild life photographer himself and having published photo-features in national and international publication like “Swagat”, “Srishti”, “Times World Travel”, “Shubh Yatra”, “The Outdoor Journal”, “Exotica”, steered the project and ensured its smooth implementation. The project has also been  recognized at various workshops,  presentations etc.by other Corporates, Govt. of Assam.‘Discovery’  has offered to make a documentary on this project as this is first of its kind  project done in India.