BASF Landmark Project in association with NMMC
Integration of Social Business Model with Safe Drinking Water Supply and Affordable Sanitation Facilities
Masooma Pathre
Deputy General Manager
New Business Development

It is very unfortunate that often people from lower-income group, with respect to their affordability, have to pay the most for their drinking water requirement. In Mumbai, safe drinking water consumes up to 15 percent of their earning. However, some places are improving with adequate initiatives and measures. In Turbhe Stores, a suburb in Navi Mumbai, the scenario is changing for better now. The area is now enjoying the availability of purified water, thanks to the new collaboration initiated by BASF and NMMC. This joint venture offers purified drinking water to Turbhe Store residents at just Rs. 8 per 20-liter-bottle at the Water ATM. Here the author has cited the business case with a comprehensive narration of the project's phasewise movement.

Water ATM dispensing purified water using BASF's ultra-filtration membrane technology.

Beneficiaries taking water

Initiation: This Landmark Project was developed through a series of social dialog sessions in Mumbai during BASF's 150th anniversary activities in 2015 under the scope of Creator Space program, and now has come to fruition through an innovative & community-based social business model. The dialogues convened a wide array of representatives including residents, NGOs, local government bodies and representatives, academia, and industry.

Problem statement: The focus was on how to provide safe & affordable water as well as sanitation services to the needy community members through implementation of a business model with an emphasis on future sustainability of services. The project was titled as Equitable Distribution of Safe Drinking Water. To define the purview, representatives across the spectrum participated in a dialogue which later was culminated into a Whitepaper - Water for Mumbai. It is worth mentioning here that the report was published by Hon. Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis in Oct 2016.

Conceptualization: Based on this whitepaper, BASF India created a unique social business model to address the access to clean water, and arrest of the water-borne diseases affecting community health, which in turn leading to illness, low productivity of working-class people, and absenteeism in schools. The model was socially oriented, economically sustainable, and could be handed over to the community after a period of two years.

Phase-I Implementation: BASF and its partner STEP (Sustainable Technosolutions for Environmental Protection) chose Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) School No 22 in Turbhe Store, located close to BASF's site, for implementing the first phase of the 'Landmark Project', in close consultation and support of NMMC.

Phase-I of the project, consisting of a 'Water ATM' and a rainwater harvesting system establishment for the school, was inaugurated on 2nd Aug 2018 by the Honorable NMMC Mayor - Jayawant Dattatray Sutar along with Dr N Ramaswami - Former Commissioner of NMMC, Dr Raman Ramachandran - Former Chairman and Managing Director of BASF India and Head of BASF South Asia, as well as other dignitaries.

The first phase of the project provided clean and affordable water to 10,000 Turbhe Store residents through water ATMs. These are the machines that dispense purified water using BASF's ultrafiltration membrane technology. BASF runs the project on land provided by NMMC at Bharat Ratna Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Vidyalaya School No 22 of Turbhe store. Waterlife India has designed and supplied the solar-powered cashless machines; and STEP implemented the project. Residents' access to the purified water was designed with a payment system through debit card. Each 20-litre-water -bottle costs Rs 8. The system currently serves to more than 1000 residents and over 900 students from the school. To increase the program's reach within the community, appropriate distribution model formation is in progress.

Water is getting purified by using BASF's innovative ultrafiltration membrane technology - Inge. It utilizes patented and highly robust Multibore fibers made from PESm, a modified Polyethersulfone, and also an in-toout filtration process. The membrane consists of extremely tiny pores with a diameter of 20 nanometers to provide a secure barrier against suspended solids, viruses, other microorganisms, and thus let only pass the pure water. The provision for rain water harvesting using BASF's Elastopave ensures the returning of rain water as groundwater.

This innovative social business model has introduced a sustainable safe water supply into a community, which is in need of drinking water, affordable sanitation, and hygiene. Normally CSR projects in India provide facilities for free, which creates a challenge towards project sustainability. Through the Landmark project, safe drinking water and sanitation facilities are being provided at an affordable cost to an economically impoverished area, thereby ensuring sustainability of the project. The revenue stream from the minimal payment collection helps to ensure its long-term viability with continuous fund in-flow for the maintenance of water ATM and rainwater harvesting system. Regular awareness program on sanitation and hygiene in schools, nearby residential areas, and public health centers are being conducted to enhance and spread the model awareness as well as the importance about water, sanitation, and hygiene. As a part of its corporate volunteering program, BASF employees are now working in communities to create awareness about sanitation, importance of clean drinking water, and general hygiene.

Phase-II Implementation: This phase will include refurbishment of an NMMC toilet and setting up a unit for hygiene products near the toilet. This phase of the project will use BASF’s innovative solutions sourcing from its diverse portfolio viz construction chemicals, care chemicals, and performance materials businesses. This unique model can be replicated anywhere in the world.

Conclusion: Public private partnership as evident in BASF's Landmark project is a great example of how Corporates can join hands with Local Government Bodies to solve the community challenges through the usage of innovative and sustainable technologies. The need is to generate strong commitment, openness, and collaboration between Government Bodies like NMMC and Corporates like BASF.