KOLKATA: Philanthropy runs in the family of this young businessman. According to Saket Mohta, managing director of Merlin Group, it’s from his father that he got inspiration to do welfare activities. He says, “It is our responsibility to contribute to the society and environment where we live in. So, we rechristened the name of our corporate social responsibility (CSR) unit as ‘Merlin I am Kolkata’.”
The vision, as he shares, is to make Kolkata a sustainable habitat through engaging in welfare activities, focusing on environment, education, health, women empowerment, skill development, preservation of architectural heritage across Bengal and caring for the elderly people.
‘Abartani’, Mohta’s pilot project on integrated waste management in New Town with the help of Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage (KSCH), has helped reduce approximately 57.6 metric tonnes of carbon footprints monthly. It has also provided employment opportunities to the women of self-help groups. He says that the initiative generates awareness and now the residents are segregating solid waste at source and sending the solid waste materials to self-help group women at a zero waste shop.
“It feels great to be recognised for the work. The United Nations has allowed the project to promote their sustainability development goal mission by adhering to certain guidelines,” adds Mohta.
Since climate change and environment are the priorities, the CSR unit of the company is also engaged in mangrove plantations in the Sunderbans. “The mangrove forest of the Sunderbans provides important protection against storm and floods to Kolkata. So, it is important to plant mangroves and preserve them,” says Mohta.
KSCH has started a project titled ‘The Community Mangrove Forest’ in the Unesco World Heritage Site where they aim to train the women about the process of making saplings of mangrove trees – preparation of the soil, taking care of the saplings so that they can be sold to generate income. ‘Merlin I am Kolkata’ was the first corporate organisation to provide integrated support, from capacity building and plantations to net fencing.
Apart from this, the company promotes cycling as a mode of green transport in the city and has presented the state cycling championship. The initiative has been endorsed by the UN’s sustainable development goal mission.
According to Mohta, the process of urbanisation cannot be ignored but adequate initiatives like green and blue infrastructure can be taken to safeguard the planet. He says, “Green infrastructure (urban greenery) will help the city withstand climate risks and blue infrastructure, which refers to conserving water bodies, lakes and wetlands, is crucial in the fight against climate change and environmental pollution.”
The need of the hour, he believes, is to work in tandem with civil society and social organisations and spread awareness about sustainable initiatives among citizens. His mantra is, “Pursue your mission to make the environment and earth a habitable place and ensure a harmonious existence.”