It was in 2014 that the then United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene must feature prominently in the post-2015 development agenda. We must improve water quality and the management of water resources and wastewater. This is a matter of justice and opportunity.”
Way back in 2006, the US-based A. J. Antunes & Co. had zeroed in on a Kolkata-based NGO, Splash to provide clean water to the underprivileged families of the city. “Children living in urban poverty regularly have little control or no choice about the water they consume. In a world where restaurants and hotels for tourists can get clean water anytime and anywhere, it is hard to imagine that children in the same cities cannot,” felt the people at the helm of the family running the Antunes business. By then, Splash was doing yeoman service in Kolkata and Antunes felt that their core values in manufacturing water purification systems had a lot of synergies in what the NGO was doing.
Splash is a social justice organisation committed to the poor, an international development agency disciplined around urban economies and also a social enterprise dedicated to providing safe water to children.
In India, a closely held family-run manufacturing business, NADI Airtechnics Pvt. Ltd. had already established itself in the making of industrial and public use heavy-duty fans, which were extensively used in railways, factories, industrial units and other places. Almost single-handedly promoted and efficiently run by J. B. Kamdar, Managing Director, NADI, was looking out for doing some meaningful work under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“In my younger days, I had dealt with equipment meant for earth moving, furnaces and in the recent past, in air circulation, with our industrial fans. Therefore, it made sense to explore one more element of nature – water,” says Kamdar. “We have been dealing with Antunes in the past for their water filtration systems. We are now getting into manufacturing these through a joint venture named Antunes NADI Manufacturing India Pvt. Ltd. To start with, the company will produce water filtration systems developed by Antunes for Indian and African countries. Later, the Madhavaram factory will be expanded to provide commercial cooking equipment used by customers like McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, KFC etc.”
Kamdar added that the NADI group of companies was founded by his parents in 1955 and he joined the company’s business in 1969. From then, began the diversification programme leading to the manufacture of industrial fans. “Today NADI is a leading manufacturer and exporter of industrial fans with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility of 100,000 sq.ft. on a five acre plot in the outskirts of Chennai. In the current year, NADI has signed major contracts with GE of USA and Alstom India to supply fans for their prestigious locomotive manufacturing projects for the Indian Railways.
As part of another diversification, which can be called their CSR activity, NADI has decided to join hands with Antunes of USA for the manufacture of high-quality water filtration systems to provide clean drinking water to school children and orphanages across Tamil Nadu to start with. “In an earlier association with a US company, I had met Daniel Schmidt, who is now the Director at Antunes. Daniel knew of the passion with which we ran NADI and when the time was ripe to get into CSR, he connected us with the promoters of Antunes - Glenn and Jane Bullock because of their professional commitment to provide high storage water filters, table top cooking equipment and their reputation for philanthropic activities,” informs Kamdar.
Daniel Schmidt says, “We are happy to partner with a quality driven company like NADI for this new venture in India. Antunes has been in operation for more than 60 years, and today we manufacture a broad line of food service equipment, specialising in countertop cooking and water filtration solutions for global operations. I am here representing more than 300 Antunes team members who design, manufacture and market our products. Our purpose as a leading global equipment manufacturer is to make our customers successful while positively impacting the world.”
“Throughout the world, Antunes has a reputation for excellence, and with that reputation comes a social responsibility to make our planet a better place and make a tangible, positive impact on the world. We accomplish that not only through our products, business practices, and culture, but also through our partnership with Splash which is an affiliate of Antunes. We are thrilled that the Antunes NADI Manufacturing India Pvt. Ltd. joint venture will enable Splash to expand its charitable outreach throughout India. Through their work, the water filtration systems will provide clean drinking water for children in schools, safeguarding health and promoting hygienic habits,” says Kamdar.
The urban density of Kolkata has exceeded morethan three times that of New York City. Nowhere in the world is there more explosive urban growth than in India.In fact, the country is on track to add 530 million people to its cities between 2010 and 2050—the equivalent of adding every resident of the US and Russia to India’s urban centres. Supply of clean water to the population becomes critical.