On Earth Day, HCL Foundation (HCLF), the CSR (corporate social responsibility) arm of HCL Technologies, announced the launch of ‘Dive to Retrieve’ – Harit Ghostnet Campaign, under its flagship program for Environment Action, HCL Harit.
HCL Foundation, along with trusted service partner Temple Adventures, led a team of certified divers to retrieve ‘ghost nets,’ i.e., abandoned, discarded, or otherwise lost fishing gear, which pose a threat to the coastal and marine ecosystems, from sites of ecological importance off the coast of Chennai. HCL Foundation is the first CSR in India to attempt a diving campaign to retrieve ghost nets towards conserving oceans and their beings.
Mr. Vijayanand A K, Global Operations Director, Merck AMS Delivery, was present at the flag-off event at the Neelankarai coast, near Chennai.
During the three-day campaign from April 22 – 24, 2022, launched under HCL Harit, the environment action program of HCL Foundation, diver teams retrieved abandoned fishing gear from underwater sites. Fifteen qualified volunteer divers from across Chennai, Madurai, and Mumbai joined each day to retrieve ghost nets. Each day, the team conducted two dives, spending approximately 45 minutes on each dive. Over the course of 3 days, the team collected and retrieved approximately 300 kgs of ghost nets. Most of these divers are diving for an environmental cause for the first time.
Ghost nets pose a significant ecological threat to the world’s seas as they result in stranding, strangulation, drowning, and starvation of marine fauna and flora. They also add to the large quantities of marine debris and microplastics.
HCLF aims to conduct more campaigns in the future, regularly along coastal Tamil Nadu, expanding across the east coast gradually.
HCLF plans to work with fishing communities and local stakeholders to create solutions for upcycling discarded nets and other marine debris and incentivizing the retrieval of the same to create a circular economy around ghost nets.
Furthermore, HCL Foundation along with its NGO partners is already working on the incentive-based model for retrieving ghost nets for more than a year. The fishermen communities along the coast of Chennai – Chengalpattu districts are directly engaged in this model to retrieve 57,000 kgs of ghost nets and marine debris.
HCL Foundation (HCLF) was established in 2011 as the CSR arm of HCL Technologies. It is a not-for-profit organization that strives to contribute toward national and international development goals, bringing about a lasting positive impact on people’s lives through long-term sustainable programs. The foundation aims to alleviate poverty and achieve inclusive growth and development. Active community engagement ensures optimal long-term gains and upward accountability. HCL Foundation works through Life Cycle Based, Integrated Community Development Approach with a thematic focus on Education, Health, Skill Development & Livelihood, Environment, and Disaster Risk Reduction & Response. Child protective strategies, inclusion, and gender transformative approaches remain central in all initiatives of the HCL Foundation, thus ensuring comprehensive development. Presently HCL Foundation is implementing five flagship programs, namely HCL Samuday & HCL Grant – Rural Development programs; HCL Uday & Clean Noida – Urban Development programs; HCL Harit (The Green Initiative) – Environment Action program and four special initiatives – Power of One, Sports for Change, HCL Foundation Academy and My E-Haat.
Ms. Nidhi Pundhir, Director, HCL Foundation, said, “HCL Foundation, through its HCL Harit program, has been addressing the challenges of climate change in a sustainable manner through community engagement. HCLF is proud to help marine ecosystems through campaigns like ‘HCL Harit – Dive to Retrieve’. We will aim to engage certified professionals from the community to help retrieve marine debris on the East coast of India.”
Mr. Vijayanand A K, Global Operations Director, Merck AMS Delivery, said, “Ghost nets are a less-spoken artificial cause of environmental issues and have been a constant source of wounded or killed sea creatures. It is very thoughtful of the HCL Foundation to take up this serious ecological issue. With this campaign, we will work towards not only retrieving the nets but also improving limited awareness in people on the topic.”
Quotes from Divers:
Ms. Priyanka S said, “These abandoned nets cause much trouble to animals living in the sea. The nets also tend to disintegrate over time and contribute to growing quantities of microplastics in the oceans. I am hopeful that this campaign will solve these problems to a large extent.”
Dr. Shabbir said, “The fishing nets that remain in the sea are a major source of plastic pollution. When we reduce the use of plastic on land, it is only sensible to retrieve the plastics from the sea as well for an Earth that is healthy in real terms.”