Get full access to one story every week, and to summaries of all other stories. Just create a free account

Every year, you read about droughts, water shortage, human suffering due to dry summers. But, so far, it has been a cycle.

This time though, India is hitting Day Zero. By 2020, government think-tank Niti Aayog estimates, India’s water crisis will be a full-blown pandemic: at least 21 Indian cities will completely run out of groundwater. Just to put that into perspective, the deadline is now a few short months away.

Some are trying to find a solution. On short notice.

Vivek Shukla has just driven back to Bengaluru from Chennai, where he had a string of meetings—from dawn to dusk—with irate apartment owners and resident welfare associations (RWAs). “The water situation in Chennai is really alarming. Some apartments haven’t received water for days. Even the tankers have given up,” says Shukla, referring to the nexus of private water tankers that supply water to urban areas that fall outside the ambit of municipal pipelines.

Chennai is one among the 20+ cities at the cusp of this dangerous, gutting water crisis. Shukla, an entrepreneur, teamed up with his ex-Wipro colleague Kasturi Rangan in 2014, to launch Smarter Homes—a start-up that supplies high-tech water meters-which can accurately measure consumption at an apartment level. Smarter Homes is aimed at urban residential high-rises which are quickly populating the IT corridors of Indian cities.

Explore more infographics like this in The Ken -
Visual Stories

The aim for start-ups like Smarter Homes is to meter every inlet (source of water) going into an apartment, and measure consumption at each unit’s level. This way, residents pay for exactly how much they consume.

“In the long run, linking price to consumption will reduce the overall use of water,” claims Shukla confidently. At last count, Smarter Homes had helped bring down water consumption by 35% in the residential buildings they work in.

Shukla and Rangan brought their decades-long experience in product development and services to the water conservation space. Starting from a one-room rental and two-person team, their start-up, five years later, employs over 100 people. With the water crisis looming, Shukla’s team had to set up a toll-free helpline to handle the volume of daily enquiries, which has jumped 100% since March. “We’re not just meter providers. We’re trying to solve the entire metering problem, end to end,’ goes Shukla’s pitch.

Water conservation, so far, has been a litany of well-meaning nudges. Taking shorter showers. Harvesting rainwater. Making taps trickle. However, most measures have focused on increasing supply. Smart metering finally breaks that jaded model of thinking and focuses on curbing demand.

However potent the promise of metering, flipping crisis to commercial opportunity has been far from easy.

AUTHOR

Olina Banerji

Based in Delhi, Olina writes about mega-trends in urban mobility, education, skilling and the environment, with a focus on how institutions and innovations can help cities grow sustainably. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics, and has worked previously with India Today and global non-profit Ashoka.

View Full Profile

Subscribe to read this story

The Ken is the only business subscription you need. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 6 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 6 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 6 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at [email protected] with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.