Corporate File

The web of life at TVS Motors

N Madhavan | Updated on August 30, 2021

Green input: Sacred Forest is home to 442 species of plants; (below) Venu Srinivasan   -  Businessline

The automobile major’s forest within its factory at Hosur is seeding nature-inspired thinking within the company

The sounds are surreal. Birds chirping, water gurgling down a stream into a pond, bamboo brushing against each other, wind whistling its way past the canopy of trees and a faint humming of a distant machine. We are inside a forest with multiple ponds, 18 to be precise, and diverse sub-habitats — marsh land, grassland, wetland and woodland — home to 442 species of plants and 292 species of animals. All this within the premises of TVS Motor Company’s factory at the heart of Hosur’s industrial cluster. Welcome to the Sacred Forest.

Spread over 50 acres of TVS Motor’s 310-acre Hosur facility that manufactures two and three wheelers, it is not the usual landscaped greenery at corporate premises but a biosphere rich in wildlife. Painted storks visit in hundreds every November to breed and fly-away in April, at times leaving behind juveniles. Herons, hornbill, pelicans, cormorants, moorhens have all made themselves comfortable in this habitat. There are spot-billed ducks, softshell tortoises, freshwater turtles, snakes (including the big four dangerous ones — cobra, Russell’s viper, saw-scaled viper and common krait), butterflies and dragonflies. Endangered species such as Indian pangolin, gray slender loris (a small monkey) and otters too have been sighted here.

 

It all began in the mid-1990s when various departments at the fast-growing TVS Motor started eyeing the 50-acre empty land, on the eastern boundary of the Hosur factory, for expansion. When the matter reached Venu Srinivasan, then the Managing Director of the company, he drew a circle encapsulating the 50-acre area and called it a sacred area where no department had claim. “The area around the factory was barren. We wanted to use this land for creating green cover, install rainwater harvesting systems and re-charge groundwater for our bore wells,” recalls Srinivasan. The horizon, over the years, kept moving. “One thing led to another and what we have today is a biosphere,” he says. As a nature lover, he had always wanted to create a habitat where flora and fauna live in perfect balance. The company’s facilities at Mysore (50 acres) and Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh (7 acres) have similar forests but they are not as mature as Hosur.

Space for micro-organisms

A separate team takes care of the forests including Preston Ahimaz, a 27-year World Wildlife Fund veteran. He is TVS Motor’s Forest Consultant. “Mimicking a forest is not easy. We have to look at finer details to ensure wildlife feels less threatened,” he says. That includes a waterscape with sloping banks and many islands, open areas and no water or air pollution. Attention is given to growing tree species that birds prefer for nesting. Trees and plants are native to the region, and planted in a manner that they will give fruits round the year for the birds and animals. These need substantial investment of time and money. “Our Chairman (Venu Srinivasan) is clear that one-third of the land has to be reserved for nature,” says P Venkatesan, Vice-President — Civil. Ask him about space for future expansion, and he responds: “We can expand in a new area or go vertical.” Srinivasan, he adds, believes that a responsible firm should not build from wall to wall, but make space for micro-organisms to thrive. “The company is executing that vision.”

Culture of sustainability

There have been tangible and intangible benefits from this initiative. It has recharged the water table and dissolved solids in the bore wells by 70 per cent. These efforts have made the employees more environment consciousness. Many a time snakes have found their way into the parking lot or inside the factory. The employees don’t hurt the reptile, instead alert trained personnel who ensure the creature is left back in the forest.

At Hosur, the forest sits in front of the company’s R&D centre. “It is a great atmosphere when you walk into the offices surrounded by thousands of birds. It is refreshing,” says R Babu, Vice-president, R&D. Engineers conceptualising a solution or design, often take a walk in the forest and return with a nature inspired solution. It happened when they were looking to enhance the drivability of TVS iQube, the electric scooter. “The atmosphere helps to think in an uncluttered manner,” he adds.

Srinivasan sees a larger picture. Students from nearby schools visit the forest and see for themselves how nature should be respected and preserved. In the Mysore factory, he has gone one step ahead and launched a formal three-year curriculum covering relevant environmental aspects. “Is it not important to reinforce a culture of sustainability and environmental protection for the next generation?” he asks. Can’t disagree with him in this era of forest fires and flash floods.

Published on August 29, 2021

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