Tata launches low-cost water purifier Swach for the masses
The Tata Group has launched what could probably be the cheapest water purifier in the world.
The new water purifier, called Swach, is a part of the Tata Group’s efforts to check the increasing water-related diseases in India, according to Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group.
Swach (which means ‘clean’ in Hindi) has been developed jointly by the Tata Group’s companies Tata Chemicals, Titan, and TCS.
Swach has two variants – with retail prices of Rs 749 and Rs 999, respectively.
“Our quest is not to create the cheapest products,” Ratan Tata, 71, said at the launch of Swach. Instead, the Tata Group focuses on “accessing the largest number of people” and “that is what drove our efforts on the Nano car, on the low-cost housing project, and that is what is driving our water purifier, too,” he declared.
By the end of 2009, Swach will be ready for sale in 3 states – Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
Swach will be available all over India by June 2010. Considering the low price of Swach, many are already calling it the Tata Nano of water purifiers.
The Tata Group already has set up a plant in Haldia, in West Bengal, with a capacity of 1 million units of Swach. This capacity will be increased by another 1 million units within 3 months.
According to the Tata Group, the water purifier will make available pure drinking water to a 5-member family for as little as Rs 30 a month.
For the sale of the low-cost Swach, the Tata group will use its network of companies like Rallis and the Tata Kisan Sansar, a rural-centric resource centre.
Ratan Tata said the distribution network of Tata Salt will be used to distribute Swach, along with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local self-help groups.
The Swach water purifier is based on a concept developed by the TCS Innovation Labs – the Tata Research Development and Design Centre (TRDDC).
The device is built around a bulb-like water purifier component made of natural elements, such as rice-husk ash, filled with nano-silver particles. It can function without electric power or running water.
The cartridge bulb of Swach has a purification medium which kills bacteria and other organisms that cause diseases.
Swach can purify up to 3,000 litres of water, after which the cartridge stops flow of water.
The Tata Group said it has filed 15 patents for its novel water-purifying technology and the product.
According to R Mukundan, managing director of Tata Chemicals, water-borne disease is the single biggest threat to global health. Diseases such as jaundice, cholera, diarrhoea, polio, gastroenteritis and typhoid are spread through contaminated water.
At the launch of the Swach, Mukundan citied a report of the United Nations published in 2007 to stress that half of hospital-beds in the world are occupied by patients afflicted with water-borne diseases.
In India, water-borne diseases cause more than 1.5 times the deaths caused by AIDS, and double the deaths caused by road accidents, R Mukundan said.
The $71-billion Tata Group, one of the oldest business families in India, has been actively involved with several mass-utility projects as well as innovative products, including the supercomputer Eka.
Earlier in 2009, the Tata Group had launched the ‘Nano’ car, at a basic price of Rs 100,000, described as the cheapest car in the world.