3S India - We want people to have dignity - Mr Rajeev Kher

CSR Times: Let’s start talking about 3sIndia Solutions. What are your plans to combat sanitation issues?

Mr. Rajeev: We have two verticals in the organization currently.One vertical is responsible for providing portable toilet stature for transient population. This would basically include construction sites, large event gatherings, pilgrimages, rallies, unserved settlements, and refugee camps. These areas pose a great challenge and this also where big organizations have come forward to help. People come from far off villages to attend events or rallies and they have no place to defecate. This results in open defecation, which causes and spreads several diseases. So our aim is to find a solution to this problem and that can only be done by providing toilets to these people. Our second vertical is that we are now in the process of developing a low cost unit where we target households, communities, and slums. This can be attached to a bio-digester and we are under the process of procuring the license from DRDO for the Bio- Digester technology. This is a brief overview about our work currently.

CSR Times: How do you approach these slums? Do you approach on your own or do you take help of other organizations?

Mr. Rajeev: We work with NGOs and other organizations that have been working in the slums and need assistance in sanitation programs. We get leads from somebody who is already working in the area, like Seva Mahilla organization or Dell Foundation. They conduct their programs on education or self-employment and realize that there is a need for sanitation. This is how we come into the picture.

CSRTimes: Do you also work in areas struck with natural calamities?

Mr. Rajeev: We had provided portable toilets in Pune during the landslide disaster in July 2014.The whole village was completely overrun with mud and earth due to the landslide. We had also provided toilets for NDRES, Pune Collectorate, people from the refugee camps, volunteers and for the National Disaster Relief Team.

CSR Times: India loses about 240 billion annually due to the lack of the improper sanitation facilities. So according to you, what are the reasons behind it? And what should be the solution?

Mr. Rajeev: That’s because we lack standardization and our legislation process also needs to be revised. Just like our government has policies; it must also have policies in place for disaster management. So many areas need to be pressed into services. There should be a system laid down about how the evacuation process will be carried out or how will the relief materials be delivered and so on.In the absence of these guidelines carrying out relief operations is not going to be very organized. Secondly since evacuation is undertaken by the government, people are not willing to participate because they are worried about not receiving payments on time. So when disaster strikes,we cannot waste our time on these concerns. The government needs to be ready and also have a rescue system in place, to tackle emergency situations.

CSR Times: The Government had launched the TSC(Total Sanitation Campaign) in 1999 with the goal to achieve rural sanitation by 2012. Its 2014 now, and even after 15 years, we are still working and far behind the targets of sanitation for all.It is difficult to understand why is there so little progress in this area? Is it that the government is not able to participate or is the message not being communicated well enough?

Mr. Rajeev: I do not have answer to that and I cannot comment about the way our Government functions. But from a private prospective I can certainly say that that the changes noticed over the last 3 months have been very positive. It is the kind of progress that did not happen for so many years and I am certain that this change will be constant and we will achieve our goal of complete sanitation in the time to come.

CSR Times: According to you, when will we complete our total sanitation campaign? How much time do you think will it take? Let us be realistic and aim at achieving 70% if not 100%.

Mr. Rajeev: I think we will attain about 70% of our sanitation target by 2019 which in itself is a very big achievement. So we are working towards reaching that goal as an organization. We have worked in this sector diligently for the last so many years and in a way we have become specialists. I also think we will be able to provide better solutions by working with the government and enable them to partner with us to reach out.

CSR Times: Have you partnered with the government for any project?

Mr. Rajeev: No, but we would like to partner with the Government. We have done some projects with them but not on any specific formulations. If they feel that we are capable of doing this, then we should pro-actively come forward and help them to achieve the goals that they have set. The government actually needs a practitioner, and an entity that has already worked into the system. Someone who has run a profitable model and can help the government convert it into something viable and commercially successful.

CSR Times: You mentioned profitability and commercial success in your answer. Can you explain how a project like this is profitable and sustainable?

Mr. Rajeev: Let us take the example of transient requirements. For instance when huge political rallies are organized and thousands of people gather they will require portable toilets. The local municipality or political party organizes it and they also pay for the services. They pay for providing the toilets to the transient users. At a construction site when the laborer needs sanitization it is the contractor or the promoter who will provide the services.This is how revenue in this field is generated. They pay for the services and if the municipal corporation is providing toilets for public areas then the municipality will earn the revenue.

CSR Times: Are these models functional across India or in Pune alone?

Mr. Rajeev: These models are functional across India.

CSR Times: How do companies participate in this?

Mr. Rajeev: A lot of companies are either not aware of this field or have no idea about organizations like us. Companies are usually not familiar about organizations like ours to take their projects forward.So if they have their own projects or if we have some projects in mind with a little help from corporates, we can execute the work. Let me explain this with an example, say an XYZ company has a project and has allocated say an ‘X’ amount for the same. Now the company wonders what to do and how to spend the money. Going by the current trend, they may decide to build toilets. There are several questions that need to be answered, such as what type of toilets? Or how are they going to be maintained? Also what is the sustainability quotient of the toilet? These questions can be answered only by experts or somebody who has experience in this field. We as a company can offer the advice and sustainable solutions. We help to build and maintain sanitation system and also provide eco-friendly sustainable models. So if you have a budget of 100 crores, you don’t need to spend the entire 100 crores to build toilets.It is a good idea you create a corpus fund of 100 crores and use a certain amount from the funds to make toilets and the rest can be used for maintenance, information, education and overall improvisation of the infrastructure. The job is not done by simply building toilets. It is also important to educate people about the merits of sanitation. Also enlightening them on questions, such as why they should use a bathroom? Or how will using a bathroom help reduce diseases? It is important to deliver this information out to people. My personal suggestion is, 60% of the corpus funds should go towards building infrastructure and 40% should go towards education and creating awareness.

CSR Times: Is it true that another added expenditure is the maintenance cost of the toilets?

Mr. Rajeev: Absolutely true. Based on my experience, I would say that maintenance must constitute a large portion of the corpus funds. So about 80% funds must be spend on building and maintaining the toilets and 20% must be spent on information, awareness and to encourage a change in society.

There have been many cases where a large number of toilets have been built in the past but they have not been maintained and people have stopped using them. They use them either as granary or for keeping hens in it. They continue to go about in the open to defecate. This has to change and providing toilets is not the only solution. To bring about a positive change you need to create huge information medium, for maximum impact on people.

CSR Times: Have you done any research on the approximate number of toilets required in India?

Mr. Rajeev: We do not have any specific figures as we do not work in every city in India. But in all the regions that we have worked, I can tell for sure that defecation in the open is a huge problem.

My concern is not about the percentage of the problem. That number can be disputed upon. My concern is the magnitude of the problem and what can be done to solve it. Statisticians’ have been throwing different numbers but that does not offer any solution. So my point is, that enough of figures and throwing numbers. We are here to create a difference. We are here to change the environment, and the situation. We want people to have total sanitation; we want people to have dignity.

About Mr Rajeev Kher,

CEO SARA PLAST Pvt ltd and Founder of 3S

Mr. Rajeev Kher is the CEO of Saraplast Pvt. Ltd. and the founder of 3S -a pioneer and India’s very first “Portable Sanitation and waste management services” brand. A unique manufacturing as well as service oriented approach to promote better health and hygiene

Rajeev’s mission to provide quality sanitation for un-served people in India has become a revolutionary concept and has created a phenomenal impact business model which is present in numerous cities all over India.

Rajeev has served on the Board of Directors (2010-2013) at the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI), a nonprofit organisation for sanitation and liquid waste management based in USA - making him not only the first Indian, but also the very first Asian to be on this much coveted forum.

Academically he is a management graduate from Symbiosis Pune, India. On the personal front he is a travel buff and an avid sailor.

About 3 S India

3S India, A Saraplast Enterprise is a unique manufacturing as well as service oriented approach to promote better health and hygiene. 3s is one of the top 50 Social Impact Enterprises in India and established to provide adequate sanitation and hygiene to live a dignified life.

3s India manufactures and offers a wide range of portable sanitation solutions which include specialty, mains free restrooms, septic systems, wash stands, urinals and allied cleaning and waste management services in various regions of India. 3s India has expanded from its current portable toilet vertical to create another vertical for pre fabricated low cost toilets and bio digester tanks for urban and rural households.

All their products are made from recyclable materials and provides environmentally safe & comprehensive sanitation and waste management services.

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