Unilever to spend over Rs 700 crore on sanitation programmes in India

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NEW DELHI: Global FMCG giant Unilever plans to spend 100 million euros (over Rs 700 crore) by 2019 on sanitation programmes in India while it looks to become a key partner in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clean India campaign.

The company that sells brands like Lifebuoy, Domex and Pureit for sanitation and clean drinking water apart from a host of products through its arm Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), is also for partnering the government in smart cities and Make in India initiatives.

Stating that there is “a tremendous opportunity” in the clean India campaign, Unilever CEO Paul Polman told reporters that the company would focus on major cities in each of the states and set the standards.

“We will, if you take now and end of the decade 2020 or 2019, which is what the Prime Minister has taken as the year because of the 150th anniversary year (of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth), we would be spending 100 million euro,” he said when asked how much Unilever would spend on the initiative.

He further said: “We can put Lifebuoy, Pureit and Domex together and create a really bigger programme together with the government and other companies to really join clean India.”

Elaborating on the enormity of the task in driving home the message of sanitation in India, he said: “In India 98 percent of households have soaps in their house, but they don’t do hand washing all the time. In terms of sanitation, globally we have reached about 300 million people, in India we have reached 65 million people with our hand washing campaigns.”

“One of the things, which we need to do in India for the clean India campaign is to scale that up to 200 to 300 million people.”

Polman, who met Modi yesterday, said they discussed clean India and the firm is looking at partnering the government in a bigger manner.

“We would even look into bigger and faster role because ambitions has not been set. The smart cities and Make in India, which also has to be done at rapidly and clean India, we have many opportunities there,” Polman added.

Commenting on the company’s business in India, he said, “Our India business is very pretty healthy. We have doubled in five six years. It continues to be one of the top companies in India.”

Bullish on India, Polman said, “People are very optimistic now about the Indian economy, so (there is) lots of hope. The changes that are taking place, investment is doubling.”

Citing the IMF forecast of 6.5 percent growth for India in 2016-17, he said, “We should expect India to pick up and see by 2016-17 significant increase in growth.”

HUL is already “very familiar” with the Make in India campaign, he said, adding that “98 per cent of our products are sourced in India. We are major exporters with 40 factories”.

However, he said that for the campaign to be successful, products made here must be up to global standards otherwise they would be uncompetitive.

On the fast emerging e-commerce sector in India, he said, “We have big plans in e-commerce business. e-commerce in cities of India is starting to take off… We need to be sure that we are there with our products as well.

“This is a new channel that opens new possibilities driven by technology and we are going to play major part as usual.”

“I on behalf of India CSR and team take this opportunity to extent my heartiest congratulations to the entire team at Unilever for the historic decision of spending around 700 crore for the sanitation facilities in India by 2019. This will go a long way in accomplishing the envisioned dreams of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan announced by the Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.”, Rusen Kumar, Founder of India CSR Network said.

” This shall bring a radical transformation in the sanitation landscape of India and give a fillip to the rate of growth of sanitation facilities in India.”, Rusen Kumar added.

“This will give a catalytic boost to the growth of sanitation facilities in India and shall be one of the most innovative allocations in the area of sanitation. The strategic planning team at Unilever deserves a special commendation for this innovative initiative for the cause of upliftment of sanitation facilities in India.”, Dr Rana Singh, Co-founder and CEO, India CSR Network said.
“I also thank the Unilever team for announcing this budgetary allocation just couple of days ahead of India Sanitation Summit slated to be held at New Delhi on Feb. 6th 2015. We shall extend our best possible support to Unilever in accomplishing their mission in India and in accomplishing the envisioned objectives of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan announced by our Honorable Prime Minister.”, further added Dr Rana Singh.

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