What one entrepreneur is doing for clean water

India is truly a very enterprising country and Prime Minster Modi is right when he says that the government just has to be an enabler and get rid of cumbersome licenses, inspections and work on making the ease of doing business much faster. This will really put India on the map with proposals not only from outside our borders but also within the country. The need is imperative we have already lost too much time so I do hope the government can come in with some much needed big reforms in labour, land acquisition and retrospective taxes.


For example, if we were to take just the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan there are several areas that could be addressed by a public-private partnership or even enterprising entrpreuners, from clean water, to waste management, sewage treatment, toilets, dustbins, sweepers to name just a few. And there are many in India who really want a cleaner, healthier environment. Unfortunately, there also many who spit and litter and pour toxic waste into our rivers. A total lack of civic sense makes the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that much more difficult.

Recently, I came across a flyer that advertised a new mechanized method of cleaning water tanks. It was intriguing. I wanted my tanks cleaned but the thought of emptying them out, and getting someone who may be unhygienic and carry a skin disease with dirty feet to clean the tank was daunting. I have a problem with manual cleaning, especially when the cleaner has no idea of cleanliness. This coupled with a fear of water borne diseases having had typhoid twice, made me reluctant to hire my local plumber. Drinking RO water helps but to brush ones teeth and wash hands, vegetables and salads in water that may be full of impurities that comes out of a tap can also lead to water borne diseases.

So I took up the flyer and called up GD Water Consult. The owner Vincie Hans had an interesting story to tell. His main business is The Placers, a 15 years-old recruiting company for mid -level and senior management for Africa, the Middle East, Singapore and India. He started the tank cleaning enterprise when he found a dirty plumber's assistance cleaning his tank. He had small children and was concerned about their health. What do you do when the guy cleaning your tank is himself dirty?

"I just had to find a better way to get this done," he said.

Why could a water tank not be cleaned mechanically with a machine? He thought. It would save water, it would prevent pathogens from the hair and skin of cleaners getting into potable water and it would not require emptying out the tank. The next few years he researched machines that could do this.

It was tough at first because due to leakages there is a high silt content in the potable water in India. He finally found the machine that could do it and started GD Water Consult one and half years ago and already has 4,000 clients. As of now he handles clients in South Delhi and Gurgaon but seeing the demand he wants to go pan India.

I was eager to see how it works and his men came around with what looked like a giant hoover/vacuum cleaner. It sucked out the two-inch silt from the bottom of the tank along with the lower layer of water and within 45 minutes, a 11,500 litre tank was completely cleaned without my having to empty the tank. I could see the clean white tiles shining below! This was incredible. Because the suction power of the vacuum was so great the silt did not mix with the water but was cleanly sucked out into a drain. Only about 25 percent of the water is wasted.

"Cleaning the water tanks regularly is crucial," says Hans. "We have found earthworms, dead lizards and birds in the tanks that we cleaned," he said.

Entrepreneurship is not lacking in India and more and more people like Hans are thinking out of the box. In Hans's case he saw something that worried him and decided to find a solution. There are millions of residences and offices that would want their tanks cleaned the mechanized way. More ideas like his are needed to make Swachh Bharat Abhiyan from a vision to a reality.

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