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  Social Responsibility

Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 8:11 p.m.
Piramal Sarvajal is creating affordable access to safe drinking water in underserved areas

By Business India Editorial

iramal Enterprises established its social enterprise Piramal Sarvajal in 2008 which designs and deploys innovative solutions for creating affordable access to safe drinking water in underserved areas. It now serves over 6,00,000 consumers daily through 1,500 touch-points across 20 states.

According to a study by WaterAid, more than 16.3 crore Indians (the highest in the world) live without access to safe drinking water. As per Census 2011 approximately 88 per cent of households are dependent on tap water, well and hand pump as their main source of drinking water.

Sarvajal’s aim is to build a market-based model around safe drinking water in both rural and urban deployment conditions. It deploys remotely tracked, decentralised drinking water purification systems that are solar-powered, cloud-connected, smart-card based automatic water vending machines, popularised as Water ATMs. Piramal Sarvajal has been granted two patents in the US for these technologies.

In villages with a population of more than 1,000 households, Sarvajal promotes an entrepreneur-owned and managed franchising model. But in medium-sized villages where the viability of the model is not assured in the short term, Sarvajal partners with philanthropic organisations.

Sarvajal has also designed and deployed solutions specifically for schools, which comprises of setting up a purification unit and dispensing point to supply fixed quantity, free of cost safe drinking water to the students during school hours.

Over the years community level drinking water set-ups have been popularised and the government has taken notice and promoted this as a rural solution. Currently, more than 15,000 community-based water purification plants have been installed at rural locations across multiple states by the respective state governments.

Another hub-and-spoke model comprises of a network of water ATM units (spokes) installed at multiple locations attached to a localised purification unit (hub). The purified water is transferred from the purification unit to these ATMs through a custom-designed, water-carrying vehicle. Sarvajal has also designed and deployed an all-in-one Purification-Chilling-Dispensing unit for serving common commuters at public places. A purification plant is set up at remote, off-grid locations with central oversight and management.

The water ATMs provide 24/7 water with affordable and transparent pricing. Remote monitoring of real-time field data and vital process parameters means stakeholders are guaranteed of water quality and project management. Field teams provide business handholding for local entrepreneurs, engage community leaders and lead door to door health awareness campaigns.

Sarvajal also works through partnerships with local entrepreneurs, local panchayats, government agencies, philanthropic organisations and corporates to enable the provision of a ‘Community-Level’ decentralised drinking water setup.

The company’s aim is to directly impact at least ten lakh people through interventions and influence government bodies, including policymakers to promote the provision of reliable and sustainable safe drinking water solutions for the balance underserved population.

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