Providing clean and affordable drinking water is Swajal’s motto

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on March 07, 2018 Published on March 05, 2018

Vibha Tripathi, founder and MD, Swajal Waters

An Internet-of-Things (IoT)-based clean drinking water system provider, Swajal Water, plans to quadruple its network to reach out to 10 lakh people, including in the rural areas, across India in 2018-19. “This year we would also quadruple the number of water purification machines to be installed at railway stations and other public places,” said physicist-turned-social entrepreneur Dr Vibha Tripathi, Founder and Managing Director of Gurugram-based Swajal Waters Pvt Ltd.

Unlike high priced bottled water, Swajal purifiers will provide affordable water priced at Re 1 for a glass and Rs 5 per litre at these public places with high foot-falls, she told BusinessLine. The winner of several awards in India and overseas for providing affordable clean drinking water, Swajal Waters has, since its inception in 2014, installed around 200 water ATMs and purification machines. In rural and remote areas without electricity, it has provided solar energy-run purifiers.

“From the poor in villages, we charge only around fifty paisa per litre. We get assistance from companies under their CSR activities for this purpose. In the case of schools, we provide machines via donations.” The company owns all the purifiers in different sizes and purification capacities from three lakh to six lakh litres of water per day. It recovers the cost in three to five years, she said.

Since all its purifiers are IoT-based, Swajal Waters does not need operators to run the machines, but schools do call up when required, she added. Apart from purifiers, the firm also supplies 20-litre water bottles. Swajal provides advanced solar-powered water purification systems in India. With a focus on green chemistry and engineering, its systems are made to last longer, she said.

Dr Tripathi, with a PhD from IIT-Kanpur, raised $1.2 million (Rs 7.8 crore) in a Series A round from Abhishek Gupta and other investors. It currently serves nearly 2.5 lakh people every day. Its partners include P&G, Gillette and Hershey.

The Swajal Water ATMs have a nine-stage cleaning process. They are also rugged and are built for all weathers. They have a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)-enabled card that can be pre-loaded for water payments and coin acceptors. The company has also introduced innovative products such as QR-code tracked water bottles and remote-sensing water purification systems.

Dr Tripathi said Swajal has been working with partners in rural India and urban slums and was initially supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP). The Swajal-designed machines are equipped with an online monitoring system that allows the company to monitor the quality of water and other parameters.

In a typical rural design, groundwater is pumped using solar power and undergoes multiple stages. The acquisition of water depends on the area as it is derived from ponds, rivers and wells. Potable water is finally treated with UV light and an ozone generator as an extra precaution. The cost of this water is around one cent per litre (64 paisa).

Published on March 05, 2018
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