A bit of a genesis of my philosophy of how I, Dr. Subramanya Kusnur started Aquakraft.Sometime in 2002, a close friend of mine Dr. Vulimiri Jagdish, former Senior Public Health Specialist from the World Bank introduced me to Dr. Timothy Badger from Boston, USA who had patents in Water Filtration technologies. Dr. Badger was very passionate about doing work in India and wanted a partner. It was then that I introduced him to a very eminent scientist in India who told me that the technology was a magic wand and provided answer to water contamination problems in India. This encouraged me to support Dr. Badger’s efforts and helped him get some business by introducing him to prospective partners. Unfortunately the partnerships did not work out and resulted in a huge financial loss to Dr. Badger. But despite that he wanted to continue his efforts of solving water problem in India. This inspired me immensely and this is when I left a successful corporate career and started Aquakraft Projects Pvt. Ltd., in July 2010 with a focus to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to one and all.
Rampant drilling of borewells have depleted the ground water levels to dramatic proportions and resultantly many parts of India have an endemic problem of Fluoride & Arsenic contamination in ground water. 80 % of India receives its drinking water from the ground and these contaminations poses a serious health risk. The striking feature of our technology that addressed these contaminants in a green way is that it does not require power, which is one of the critical components of sustainable water treatment solutions. Unlike Reverse Osmosis, it does not waste any water and treats 100% of the water and also there is no sludge. Also it did not require much maintenance. In fact, the local village personnel were able to monitor and maintain the system without much ado. This buoyed my confidence and conviction and I set out to promote the same.
Armed with a magic wand, I travelled extensively across the length and breadth of India and while doing so, was alarmed to see that drinking water interventions have a very low rate of sustainability. One of the main factors was the lack of electricity, which was the most critical component for the operation of an RO system. More often than not, the membrane used for filtration in the RO process turned out to be the main source of contamination. Apart from that, rampant pulling of water from the ground depleted the water table increasing the contaminant profile of the ground water itself. Therefore, the economic value invested in such interventions eventually gets eroded which has a direct impact on Public Health & effectively the GDP.
Then started the journey of the advocacy of this technology amongst opinion & decision makers. This was very challenging as is normally the resistance to change. Here I had two options, either embrace the accepted technology that was RO and make a fortune or continue to promote and support a green technology that conserves the most precious commodity, WATER. My innate conscious made me naturally choose the latter and that is how a next generation Social Entrepreneur was born who aimed at innovating sustainable socio economic models like the aquatm – Water ATM & aquato – Access based bio toilets using green technologies. The road ahead was not less challenging and was full of uncertainties, frustrations, reluctance to change with lack of awareness and advocacy being the key factor. This is when I realized that the rural population, though very smart and intelligent does not have access to information and best practices and is not ready to embrace change so easily. At the same time there was no one who subscribed to the idea of funding an advocacy program. With limited resources I set out to do the same and in the journey met some incompatible investors who pulled down the momentum dramatically and exposed me to unlimited risk of liability. That did not deter me and battled out against all odds. Everyone including a few of my partners were excited with the idea looking at the budget allocations by the Government & the Multilateral Aid Agencies, but nobody had the girt to see it through as turn around time to realize yield was very high and there was no precedence to any models. I was advised by a lot of well wishers and friends that this is not a workable idea and the only successful companies in drinking water are the home filtration companies who mainly address metros and developed markets. That threw a question to me that what will happen to our hinterland. Some one has to do it and at that time my passion took over my inhibitions and thus was born a next generation social entrepreneur while having profit orientation and being socially responsible, committed and sensitive