SGS India Provides Affordable and Accessible Drinking Water to Rural Villages
Working alongside Piramal Sarvajal, a mission-driven social enterprise, SGS India is committed to leveraging technology to bring community-level safe drinking water to underserved rural villages.
The enterprise operates in remote villages, such as Ekal near the Indo-Pakistan border. With its lack of basic infrastructure – the village gained access to electricity only four years ago – the people of Ekal have been denied the right to safe drinking water. In fact, a lack of awareness about the dangers of drinking contaminated water has resulted in villagers paying for medical care because the water makes them ill.
The mission of Piramal Sarvajal, which means ”Water for All” in Sanskrit, is to design and deploy innovative solutions for creating affordable access to safe drinking water in underserved areas. The enterprise is at the forefront of developing technologies and business practices that promote safe and sustainable drinking water in rural and urban areas. This is especially important given that two thirds of India’s terrain has no perennial water flowing through it, so there is an overdependence on ground water. Today, three quarters of the population in India drinks untreated water, leading to chronic waterborne diseases such as jaundice, cholera, viral hepatitis, gastroenteritis and diarrhea.
Piramal Sarvajal enlists the support of corporations in developing low cost solutions. SGS India has supported an initial project in a small village called Yeoti, with 3,000 inhabitants, in the Osmanabad district of Maharashtral. We have sponsored a state-of-the-art community purification plant, installed by Piramal Sarvajal, which is delivering safe drinking water at affordable prices to the villagers. The project creates opportunities for members of the community to develop sustainable livelihoods.
A unique water ATM model, which automatically dispenses liters of water for a nominal charge, provides the community with access to safe water at all times. The ATM is solar powered and cloud connected, offering remote tracking of the water quality and of each pay-per-use transaction. Revenues from the ATM contribute to the ongoing maintenance of the treatment plant. The low price of water and minimal maintenance needs mean that the cost of procuring purified drinking water for villagers is very low; this is vital for ensuring maximum uptake of the service.
With the successful execution of this project, SGS India has approved six more projects spread over five states in India. In total, SGS has donated around 5 million Indian Rupees toward providing people living in remote villages with access to safe drinking water.