Bringing Affordable Drinking Water to the Under Served and Rural Communities of India

JanaJal

3. Good Health and Well-Being 6. Clean Water and Sanitation 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

Overview

JanaJal works with a AAA philosophy which is making safe water Available, Accessible and Affordable. The company focuses on providing potable drinking water that is used by households for daily purposes. Locations like bus stands, schools, urban slums, and railway stations, etc. where the need for water is acute are chosen for installing, operating and maintaining water ATMs. The water ATMs get water from the available source, purify the water according to the contaminants and dispense water at predefined quantities. JanaJal remotely monitors all the ATMs using an established cloud-based IT infrastructure which works in real time. Technology enables dispensing data about the system health and the purity levels of water dispensed. It ensures the smooth functioning of the ATM’s at various places.

Authors

Venkata Hareesh Kodi

Venkata Hareesh Kodi

Ranjana K

Ranjana K

Swetha Thomson A

Swetha Thomson A

School

Indian Institute of Technology Bombay - Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management

Indian Institute of Technology Bombay - Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management

Professor

Ashish Pandey

Ashish Pandey

Innovation

JanaJal’s robust and smart systems are a truly a piece of innovation as they:

• Operate on solar energy and electricity

• Are monitored online
• Work on remote management and diagnostics

The capacity varies with location and an average of up to 15,000 litres per day per system can be dispensed. All of the machines have a ten-year lifetime. The ATM unit can be operated using either coins or a unique ATM Card. The pre-paid ATM Card provides customers with automatic access on a 24x7x365 basis. Water is dispensed in quantities of 250 ml, 1 litre , and 20 litres. Regular and chilled water is served.

The technology that is used to filter the water depends on the type of input water available at the location. Water is treated efficiently ensuring its minerals are intact. A sample of water from the location is lab-tested to assess the level of contamination, the presence of heavy metals like iron, arsenic, microbiological contents, and Ph level. Because the water quality changes after every 100 km or so, there is no one solution which is based on a single technology to purify water. JanaJal sources water from various municipalities and conducts a lab test to assess the water quality and decides on the most suitable purification method.

JanaJal has contributed significantly over the past five years to the concept of water ATMs. They are widely accepted as a solution to providing the last mile connectivity for delivery. Various local administrative bodies successfully validate the concept, the State and Central government of India and above all consumers, who are willing to pay a nominal cost to receive this invaluable resource which usher’s good health and wellness in the lives of their families. JanaJal has implemented a technology-agnostic method and uses several approaches (sometimes a suitable combination), including RO (Reverse Osmosis), UV (ultraviolet), UF (ultrafiltration) and carbon filtration. Each ATM is monitored remotely and controlled through a GPRS-based software lodged within the unit.

JanaJal has also launched WOW – Water on Wheels, its mobile water ATM built on a battery-operated e-rickshaw that will deliver water into the deepest residential pockets in urban or rural areas. While fixed water ATMs are regarded as the ‘last mile connectivity’ for delivery, WOW is recognized as the ‘last metre connectivity’ providing the much-needed impetus to the accessibility of safe water to one and all.

Bringing Affordable Drinking Water to the Under Served and Rural Communities of India

Inspiration

On his road trips between Pune and Mumbai, Parag Agarwal, the founder often comes across people who not only beg for money but also asked for his bottle of water. He came across children begging more for safe drinking water than for food. It was disheartening for Mr. Parag to realize that only upper middle class families or above have access to safe drinking water.

These requests made him curious and made him realize how the poor in our country suffer from limited access to safe drinking water. During that period, Agarwal owned Panama Water Management, a company that worked with the government on various water treatment projects. Mr. Parag did some research and found that India is suffering due to its poor management of water resources. In the year 2013, Parag and his brother Anurag, who is a US-based investment banker, have come forward to set up Supremus Group and gave birth to their flagship initiative ‘JanaJal’ which aims to tackle the drinking water scarcity problems by developing and installing water ATMs. Within 18 months, a water kiosk prototype was built which features a water purifier and a vending machine operated through a cloud-based monitoring system and fitted in for remote management.

Mr. Parag always believed that water has the potential to be the next global commodity and can yield a considerable service and infrastructure opportunity as long as it is priced at an affordable level. He was also inspired by UNICEF’s long-standing support for improving WASH facilities (water, sanitation, and hygiene) which are vital to ensuring the rights of children. Alarming indicators such as global warming leading to climate change were very clearly discernible, and its impact on health due to lack of access to clean water were his major drivers of the hypothesis. In 2011, the gap in demand and supply of safe drinking water in India caught his attention. He realized the need of the hour was to not only make water available and accessible to all, but to do so in an efficient, robust and sustainable manner. They wanted to not only increase the availability but also the accessibility of safe water and further make it affordable by reducing the cost of the same drastically as compared to bottled/packaged water.

Overall impact

By providing access to a glass of chilled water at an affordable price, JanaJal not only ensures economic viability but also increases the consumption of safe water by more and more people who find it extremely affordable and accessible. JanaJal’s initiative throws light on how critical it is to collaborate under a joint effort between various local administrative bodies and the private sector to deliver a social impact that is unmatched. The company also focusses on creating jobs for the youth, imparting training and upskilling them to work as operators on water ATMs thereby providing them a livelihood.

JanaJal intends to make the dream right to water a reality to every Indian by providing effective services and ensuring extensive reach for delivery through WOW – Water on Wheels. JanaJal aspires to deliver 1 billion litres per annum by 2018. Their solutions already had resulted in far-reaching effects in states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. People living in urban slum areas in Ghaziabad use water ATM’s extensively to meet their daily needs. ATM’s in that area had also clocked the highest dispensing rate of around 25,000 litres per day.

Every JanaJal water ATM is designed to deliver the best quality water and efficient services with the promise to provide the relief to the commuters and residents in all seasons. The company has already touched the lives of more than 80 million beneficiaries to date and targets to serve one billion people by 2020.

Also, by partnering with IRCTC, JanaJal has provided access to water in various railways stations of Maharashtra and Mumbai. Over the next five years, JanaJal aims to install at least 2000 ATMs with IRCTC pan India.

Society :

JanaJal’s solutions have a high social impact in the form of
• Eliminating the use of plastic bottles
• Creating social entrepreneurs
• Providing vocational training and skill development

JanaJal water ATMs also reduce waterborne diseases through the removal of all forms of microbiological contamination in surface water using technologies other than Reverse Osmosis. These water ATMs provide fresh, safe drinking water at a minimal cost besides generating employment for more than 400 people during the past one year. They have a high percentage of women employees committed to the cause. They also employ everyone who seeks employment with them.

Today, JanaJal water ATMs are installed in collaboration with government organizations like IRCTC, Central and Western Railways. They have been delivering environmental benefits through a reduction in the generation of plastic bottles by encouraging people to carry their bottles.

Environment :

JanaJal water ATMs contribute to curbing the environmental pollution by eradicating the generation of up to 5 million plastic bottles per year. Rejected water from the water ATM is collected and routed into alternate processes such as gardening, flushing and pot washing. In dense residential colonies, people are encouraged to come and collect this water free of cost for suitable use.

Another unique aspect of the water ATM’s is that they are hybrid and operate on regular electricity supply as well as solar power. In this manner, they are environmentally friendly and reducing the carbon footprint impact by depending on renewable sources of energy as well.

Business benefit

JanaJal is one of the first companies in India that has not only strived to build a sustainable model within the drinking water sector but also created a robust for-profit business model. The water ATMs dispenses safe drinking water at a minimum price which is dependent on the location where it has been stationed. Water is made available at 8 cents per 20 litres in an urban slum area at Ghaziabad whereas, in railway stations, water is dispensed at 7 cents per litre.

The capital cost of installing an ATM is USD $10,000, and it generally takes 2-2.5 years to recover the unit cost. They keep a 20 percent profit margin at the EBITDA level and after taxes, a healthy 10 percent margin. The core strategy which they focus is on volumes thereby creating a sustainable business. Over the past four years, the founders have invested over USD $6 million in the company. Presently most of the projects are being implemented under the BOO (Build Operate Own) model. The company invests its capital in building, owning and operating water ATMs in a consistent, sustainable and viable manner. In some instances, the projects work under PPP mode under joint investment and collaboration with various stakeholders

When non-profit organizations sponsor water ATMs, the capital investment is taken care of by the sponsor and the water is sold at a subsidized rate. JanaJal has also received funding from a US-based social impact fund in the form of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) which is targeted to increase the footprint of water ATMs across the various railway and metro stations, city bus stops and other public places present in municipal areas.

The ATM’s installed across India are very encouraging and stay aligned with expectations as regards their performance till date. Revenue and dispensing volumes will reach good numbers in the 2nd year as the communities Janajal caters to have never had access to such water previously.

Social and environmental benefit

The benefits are immense in the form of better health, better education to the children due to higher attendance in school, jobs to people especially unemployable (disabled, specially abled), skill development, upskilling of people, etc. Plumbers and electricians who play a crucial role in the maintenance of the equipment are very much valued.

JanaJal provides social entrepreneurship and various employment opportunities to the community by upskilling them and providing extensive training to conduct themselves as Operators of the water ATMs as a part of their operating model.

The company also aims to reach 50,000 water ATMs installed by the end of the year 2020. So far, it was successful in realizing the fact that water ATMs are the right pathway to a developed nation and this concept was accepted across the globe. The Government of India’s thrust on Swachh Bharat initiative is now being applied by all local administrative bodies pan India who recognize the benefit of making this priceless resource accessible to people. It is established that the common man is willing to bear a nominal cost for safe drinking water if it is compliant with global quality standards. They are setting up water ATMs at an increasing pace and are on their path of delivering 1 billion litres of water annually by 2020.

Interview

Mr. Parag Agarwal, Founder & CEO

Mr. Parag Agarwal, Founder & CEO

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JanaJal

JanaJal

Mumbai, Ghaziabad, Pune, Delhi-NCR, Surat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR, Gujarat, IN

Business Website: www.janajal.com

Year Founded: 2013

Number of Employees: 201 to 500

With a vision to bring safe drinking water to millions, the founder Mr. Parag Agar started JanaJal. He has identified the role of safe drinking water in every human being's life along with the need to make it available and accessible to all in an efficient, robust and sustainable manner. JanaJal was featured in 2018 NASSCOM Social Innovation Forum as having “Ideas that Impact.” The company has over 450 water ATM kiosks in 4 cities. Founded in 2011, they currently dispense more than 300 million litres of water annually.

JanaJal aims to solve the water crisis and provide increased access to safe drinking water by leveraging technology and innovation. They deliver smart drinking water solutions. The principal objective of JanaJal is towards conservation and safeguarding of the precious water resources through technology. They aim to bring about a change in the perception of our society on drinking water and ensure a better living, wellness, higher economic productivity, and sustained education via higher attendance of children.