Over 10,000 citizens from Turbhe Store, a suburb of Navi Mumbai, will have access to clean and affordable drinking water through the ‘Landmark Project’ – a water and sanitation initiative by BASF, with the support of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC). The concept for the project was first developed through a series of social dialogue sessions in Mumbai during BASF’s 150th anniversary activities in 2015, and has now come to fruition in an innovative, community-based social business model.
In the first phase of the project, a rainwater harvesting plant and a smartcard based community water treatment plant, commonly referred to as a “water ATM”, were introduced in Navi Mumbai by the NMMC Mayor, Mr. Jayawant Dattatray Sutar, along with Dr. N. Ramaswami, Commissioner, NMMC and Dr. Raman Ramachandran, Chairman & Managing Director, BASF India and Head, BASF South Asia, as well as other dignitaries from BASF and NMMC.
The ‘Landmark Project’ is being implemented in cooperation with a group of expert partners. WaterLife India designed and constructed the water ATM and will run it for 10 years using BASF ultrafiltration technologies, while STEP, an organisation that provides environmental engineering expertise, is the implementation partner for the overall project.
STEP has been associated with BASF as early as 2014, to plan and organise the first leg of BASF’s ‘Creator Space’ programme in Mumbai, on the topic ‘Equitable distribution of safe drinking water.’ Here, STEP partnered with BASF to conduct a ‘Water Summit’, which culminated into a white paper – ‘Water for Mumbai.’ Based on this, BASF India proceeded to work on ideas related to water, sanitation & waste management, and submitted an integrated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project for funding to BASF SE. Once the project was selected, the BASF team and STEP chose the NMMC school in Turbhe Store located close to BASF site for implementation of the first phase of the initiative.
Handover in two years to local organisation
The ‘Landmark Project’ was set up by BASF on land provided by NMMC; after two years it will be handed over to local community-based organisation, to be owned and operated by them. According to a BASF press release, the project is a holistic approach to water and sanitation. The solar powered, cashless water ATM will dispense potable drinking water at just Rs. 8 per 20 litres when accessed with a debit card. Uniquely, water is harvested from rain and other sources, and is purified using innovative technologies including an ultrafiltration solution from BASF. “Creating a revenue stream from the water ATM will help ensure its long-term viability, ensuring continuing funds for maintenance of the water ATM and rainwater harvesting system,” the press statement added.
Dr. Ramachandran pointed out that clean drinking water can consume almost 15% of the income of Mumbai slum residents, meaning that they must often rely on an unsafe water supply. Thanks to the critical support of NMMC, this project can now offer access to affordable, clean drinking water. “This is a good example of how we ‘create chemistry’ to develop sustainable business models and communities.”
Under its next phase, the ‘Landmark Project’ will integrate community management for safe and affordable sanitation with the refurbishment of existing public toilet near the school, as well as the establishment of a project for women’s hygiene near the toilet. The latter will include setting up a unit for compostable sanitary pads, which will also allow BASF to test their portfolio of products from diverse businesses (ecovio and Elastopave from Performance Materials business, inge membrane from Water Chemicals business, and several products from Construction Chemicals business) for the model. STEP is the implementation partner and will be involved in conducting impact assessment of the project. After two years, the project will be run by the community-based organisations.
STEP is also working with BASF in West Bengal to create a circular economy project related to organic waste segregation through usage of BASF’s ecovio bags made from compostable polymers with bio-based content.
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