In a video clip, a boy from a Mumbai slum fills water from a water ATM every day. That is justification enough for launching water ATMs across the country to provide affordable drinking water, according to JanaJal, a flagship initiative of the Supremus Group. It also justifies charging a nominal Rs 2 for a glass of water and Rs 5 for a litre.
“Water needs to be respected,” says Parag Agarwal, 46, chairman-cummanaging director of JanaJal. “If it is free, water gets wasted.” It was on World Water Day—March 22—in 2016 that JanaJal set a target of providing people with 1 billion litres of drinking water by 2020 through its water ATMs. The first one was set up in Varanasi three years ago. Today, JanaJal has 450 water ATMs in the country and dispenses about 200,000 litres a day on an average.
In 2017, JanaJal got an investment of about $5 million from Tricolor Cleantech Capital, a US-based social impact fund. JanaJal is also venturing into mobile water ATMs. Built on battery-operated e-rickshaws, these will be called Water on Wheels, or WOW.
WATER BEARERParag Aggarwal poses with his WOW water ATM van in Delhi