‘Hey Water, what is your colour?’, ‘What is your taste like?’ These are the lyrics (translated from Marathi to English) of a song written by G. D. Madgulkar. Indeed, the taste of water changes from place to place. A few years ago, municipal water was available everywhere in Pune. Purified water from Khadakwasla is excellent on all parameters. However, because of the city’s rapid growth, new areas now use borewell or tanker water. Lack of clean drinking water has gradually become a problem in cities like Pune and Mumbai. In Western countries, every city’s water report is readily available to citizens. It gives an account of what chemicals the water contains, whether it is potable, or what kind of processes have been followed to make it potable.
In India, there is a lack of awareness about clean drinking water, even in cities. Although government reports are not readily available, private laboratories can test the purity of water. Mr Suhas Kanekar’s ‘Hydrotech Laboratory’ is one of them. A report is prepared in this laboratory after scientific examination of the water. After graduating in ‘Analytical Chemistry’, Mr Kanekar worked in Cipla for a brief stint. He started his own business in 2005. At that time, there were only a few laboratories for water testing in Pune. Due to the huge population growth in Pune, it has become increasingly difficult for the Municipal Corporation to supply water to all places. Almost all new settlements depend on borewell water. Therefore, water purification devices have to be used at homes. However, the quality of water from the purification equipment has to be checked too. Hence there is a lot of demand to test this water. People are inclined to check the purity of water due to the rise in the overall health awareness post the pandemic. Growing population and limited supply of drinking water has increased the demand for this type of product. There are labs that give cheap but disingenuous reports. Therefore, one of the major challenges that Mr Kanekar faced was convincing people about the quality of their product. Although a degree in chemistry and technical knowledge was useful for business, it did not include hands-on training. He had to inculcate new skills in order to grow his enterprise. In that regard, he has given credit to ‘DeAsra Foundation’ for guiding him in his endeavour. Upon the recommendations of the Quality Council of India, the government gives certificates to such laboratories. There are very few people who have started an enterprise after undertaking post-graduation in the field of science. Twenty years ago, starting a water analysis laboratory in Pune was a really challenging task. But with persistent efforts, Mr Kanekar managed to firmly establish his business. Finding employment opportunities for graduates in this country is an uphill task, however, this entrepreneurial story shows that one can use their education, start a novel business, and become a self-made ‘solopreneur’.
This article by Dr. Lalitagauri Kulkarni was originally published in Marathi in Sakal Newspaper on November 21, 2023.