Last summer, India faced its worst water crisis till date, with official data revealing that 91 key reservoirs around the country were at a mere 25% capacity; a whole thirty per cent lower than the year before. In case you're trying to jog your memory, recall the great IPL controversy of 2016, when petitioners moved to court demanding that the series be rescheduled so as to avoid wastage of water in an already drought-stricken state. This came at a time when Maharashtra was facing a two-year prolonged drought, threatening the lives and livelihoods of its sizeable farming community.
However, like most of our social problems, the alarming water crisis in India cannot be blamed on any one event. In the last 50 years, the rapidly growing Indian population has managed to diminish the per capita availability of fresh water to 1,123 cubic metres from 3,000 cubic metres. With even greater water demand expected in the future, the present scenario is a warning sign for what is to come.
Luckily, however, a few individuals and enterprises have taken the challenge head on. On World Water Day, let's take a look at five social startups that have made it their mission to tackle the crisis with the help of technology, innovation, and passion.
SOURCE: D&D Ecotech
D&D Ecotech Services was launched in 2010 by colleagues Suresh Damwani and Sunil Dubey, as a means to tackle India's depleting groundwater resources. A Mumbai-based professional rainwater harvesting company, it uses specially designed systems (called Jal Rakshaks) that not just store rain water but also recharge the ground source. Their team comprises experts in geology, hydrogeology, and civil engineering, and the enterprise has executed a wide range of projects across sectors. D&D Ecotech is presently working from Goa to Bokaro, with plans of expanding to other cities soon.
Founded by Sudesh Menon, Indranil Das, and Mohan Ranbaore in 2009, Waterlife is focused on providing high quality safe water in a sustainable manner. The company essentially runs privately owned water filtration plants that supply clean drinking water to subscribers at a nominal cost (20 liters of drinking water costs a subscriber five rupees). With a vision to provide clean drinking water to all by the year 2020, Waterlife employs the best available green technology and delivers to even the most remote, low-income, rural and urban communities. Along the way, it also partners with government agencies, NGOs, Panchayats, SHG, commercial institutions as well as international agencies for an inclusive approach to solving the water issue on an unprecedented scale.
Established in 2015 by, Samit Choksi and Priya Vakil Choksi, ThinkPhi aims to build aesthetic, yet simple products that create positive impact on the environment. Their flagship product – the ulta chaata -- is a unique integrated system for clean water, energy, and shade. It includes features such as solar integration for power, energy storage, and energy-efficient lighting, apart from the Phi-Box – a fine filtration and disinfectant system that converts rain water into drinkable water. In addition, one can view data and manage the Ulta Chaata through a smartphone, while real-time sensors collect environment data and sends alerts for system maintenance. ThinkPhi is a great example of using smart technology to create an interactive connection between humans and machines, while solving some of our most crucial problems.
Electrical pumps are often our go-to solution for water scarcity in urban areas. However, in several regions across India, power supply can be often as dubious as water. FluxGen, a social startup founded in 2011, addresses this unique challenge through a low-cost and local IoT solution for energy and water management (EWM). FluxGen's EWM system measures the supply at the consumer end electronically, providing alerts via web applications when levels drop due to excessive consumption or even something as simple as a leak. For example, the FluxGen mobile app monitors electricity and water usage, using wireless channels in any building, be it a residential apartment or a factory, and gives estimates on the expected monthly bill. It also provides tips on saving resources; and helps in automatic scheduling of water tankers by continuously monitoring overhead tanks and water pumps.
SOURCE: Hindustan Times
Founded by Anu Sridharan, NextDrop Technologies addresses a typically Indian problem, by solving the uncertainty of when piped water will actually arrive at households every day. Initially started in the Hubli-Dharwad cities of Karnataka and then extended to Bangalore, NextDrop collects real-time water delivery information from water operators/engineers in the field, which is then distributed to the people who need it via SMS. In addition, the company has also introduced a tanker-monitoring device for apartment complexes and smart meters for individual homes. These help consumers reduce water wastage, while the data is available on cloud-based servers for authorities looking to understand water-usage trends in a particular region. With over 75,000 registered users, NextDrop has had a fairly considerable impact on Bangalore's unsure water situation.
Let's be clear: There's no alternative to water yet.
If things continue to deteriorate at the same pace, the world will soon be at war over water – a commodity we've spent most of our lives taking for granted. Consider our present scenario a warning sign for what could happen if we don't act soon enough. It's crucial that we all make it our priority to conserve, reuse, and recycle water, and spread awareness wherever possible. Don't wait for the next great drought to react – be a pre-activist and do your bit now.
Today, more than ever, it's important to talk about issues before they turn into disasters—to watch out for warning signs, to wake up before the alarm rings. #JaagoRe, a TATA Tea initiative, encourages all citizens to strive for change before it's too late. Join the conversation at www.jaagore.com
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