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‘The quest is to create enhanced lifestyle, not develop cheap products’

Ratan Tata speaks to HTon Swach, the new water purifier from his group.

business Updated: Dec 08, 2009 01:28 IST

Ratan Tata speaks to HTon Swach, the new water purifier from his group.

Water that matters

At Rs 749, the Tata Swach is the cheapest water purifier to hit the market and targets rural areas. It does not need running water or electricity. Its cartridge contains material that kills harmful germs and bacteria.
It can purify up to 3,000 litres of water after which the cartridge stops water flow, giving a lead time to replace the cartridge

Less than 15 per cent of rural Indians have access to safe drinking water. As many as 3.5 million people die every year on account of water-borne diseases such as jaundice, diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and gastroenteritis.

At an estimated Rs 30 per month for a family of five people, low-cost water purifier Tata Swach sets a new market benchmark.

Swach blends low-cost ingredients such as rice husk with high-end nano technology.

TCS Innovation Labs, an arm of IT firm Tata Consultancy Services conceptualised the product being made by Tata Chemicals and partnered by three other group firms – Titan Industries, Rallis India and Tata Teleservices.

On the strategy behind ‘Swach’
75 per cent of the rural population does not have access to safe drinking water. The Tata Group took this challenge of providing safe drinking water four years ago. The basic idea stems from the Tata Group’s philosophy to enhance the quality of life.

On marketing this product
The company is using the AIR (awareness, innovation and reach) philosophy to market the product. It is banking on Tata Salt’s distribution network and is looking at tie-ups with NGOs and private partners as well. Tata is looking at traditional as well as non-traditional partnerships.

On the sales targets
Tata has a manufacturing capacity of one million units. The product will be rolled out in phases – Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal are the first three states where the purifier will be sold. In the next five years the company hopes to sell five million units.

On the pricing
Swach purifies 3000 litres of water with an end of life shut mechanism. For a family of five, the cost is Rs 30 per month (assuming the family uses 7.5 litres for drinking).

On the idea
This is further to our philosophy to enhance the quality of life in India. The trust has evolved by helping communities and we have developed an affordable water purification system. As of now the plan is to reach out with this product across India. Our quest has not been to create the cheapest car, housing, or water purification system. The idea is to drive home convenience and better lifestyle.

On future plans for Swach
During the development phase 500 prototypes were rolled out. Some of the filters were used in the areas ravaged by the Tsunami. We are working on new versions of Swach in few years. New version filters are being developed to eliminate arsenic and fluoride contamination.

On what next after the cheapest car, cheap housing and now cheap water purifiers
The quest has been to create enhanced lifestyle and not develop cheap products.