With Water ATMs, this Entrepreneur is Quenching India's Thirst – Entrepreneur

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By Punita Sabharwal
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A couple of decades back no one could have thought of trading water. But well, here we are, buying, selling and hoarding it as well. However, water availability is not enough. Safe drinking water is the need of the hour. Parag Agarwal, Founder of JanaJal, has devised water ATMs: a structure that dispenses safe drinking water at minimum price. The rates are, however, dependent on the location where it has been stationed. “We are making water available at Rs 6 per 20 litres. Whereas, in railway stations, water is dispensed at Rs 5 per litre,” informed Agarwal.
While travelling, he came across children begging more for safe drinking water than for food. In the words of the Founder, “You have to belong to the upper middle class or beyond to afford safe drinking water.”
Talking about the technology that is used to filter the water, Agarwal quoted, “Just like every illness needs a different medicine, different types of water requires different types of treatment. Our focus is to treat the water proficiently, thereby keeping its nutrient value intact. We first take a sample of water that is available in that location to assess the level of contamination in the water. Does it have iron, does it have arsenic, does it have microbiological contents, the Ph level and then on the basis of that we create the system configuration and then we install a system.”
Social entrepreneurship scales when the government joins hands with it. JanaJal doesn’t operate in partnership with the government but it is associated with it. “Water ATMs are established as a very legitimate and reliable alternative for the administration to make drinking water available. So, the Government acts as an enabler to us,” said the entrepreneur.
All said and done, but without fund-raising, any start-up falls flat, or worse, dies. The water ATM man said, “It was entirely bootstrapped by us. For the first time in February this year, we received an FDI from a US-based social platform – Tricolor Cleantech, which has given us $5 million dollars.”
Addressing his entrepreneurial journey of installing water ATMs at different localities, Agarwal tells, “We are in collaboration with IRCTC. They are the enabler, giving us the space on the railway stations. We invest the money and conduct the entire operation on daily basis. The contract is on the tender basis for 5 years. We are also in talks with the Ghaziabad authorities for the same.” Next, on the cards, the company’s mobile water kiosks having 500-litre tanks mounted on e-rickshaws. Named as JanaJal Water-on-Wheels, it is currently doing a pilot in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, with 75 e-rickshaws.
(This article was first published in the August 2017 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)
Entrepreneur Staff
Managing Editor, Entrepreneur India
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