Piramal Sarvajal: A Social Innovation Delivering Safe Drinking Water to Rural India

Piramal Sarvajal: A Social Innovation Delivering Safe Drinking Water to Rural India
Case Code: BSTR506
Case Length: 14 Pages
Period: 2008-2016
Pub Date: 2017
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization: Piramal Group
Industry: Health Care Industry
Countries: India
Themes: Business Strategy, Operational Strategy
Turnaround of Indian Railways: A Tough Road Ahead?
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This case is about the Sarvajal project, an initiative led by the Piramal Foundation, which designed and deployed innovative technology to ensure safe water access for villages in India. The company installed local, remotely tracked water purification systems and built a strong network of “water ATMs”, solar-powered, cloud-connected vending machines that dispensed water for villagers at the swipe of a smart card. Sarvajal also created employment opportunities in the local community through the franchising system. Customers could pay in cash or use pre-paid cards, which they could recharge like mobile phones. However, some critics felt that Sarvajal was commercializing an essential need like water and that the water ATMs were not capable of fulfilling the domestic water requirements of the rural Indian population.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the issues, challenges, and social considerations in the Sarvajal project
  • Understand the issues related to commercialization of an essential need like water
  • Explore ways in which Sarvajal can scale up its activities in the future
  • Analyze the need for government involvement in projects like Sarvajal



Piramal Group, Sarvajal, Water ATM, Social innovation, Social initiative, ‘Water for All’, Rural franchisee network, Piramal Foundation

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