Nov 15 2013 | Focus

Securing Water

The population of India is about 18% of the world population. India has more than 1.21 billion people with just 4% of the total usable water and 2.3% of the agricultural land available in the world. The need of the hour for all stakeholders of water / wastewater segment is to make judicious use of water. It is high time when proper management systems and process should be put in place to make optimum use of this scarce resource. Environmental pressures on industrial wastewater discharge from govt. pollution control boards can go a long way in protecting our water bodies from getting contaminated and thereby making it available for consumption.


Water treatment refers to the process that makes the water more acceptable for the intended application. Water can be treated for human consumption in the form of drinking water, industrial applications and medical uses. The main objective of any water treatment process is multi pronged. It is to remove / reduce existing contaminants in the water and make the water usable. Treating water for drinking purpose may involve the process of separating solids using physical processes like settling and filtration and chemical processes such as disinfection and coagulation. Biological processes are generally employed in the wastewater treatment using processes such as aerated lagoons, activated sludge or slow sand filters.


As per Ministry of Water Resources, based on 2011 census it is estimated that the per capita availability of water in the country is 1545 cubic meters. As the population is growing at an alarming rate, the per capita water availability is under stress and is declining every passing day. The average annual per capita availability of water in India was 1816 cubic meters as per 2001 census, this got reduced to 1545 cubic meters as per 2011 census. The country is facing water stress due to limited availability of water coupled with progressive demand owing to urbanisation and industrialisation. The contamination of water sources and poor water treatment facility is also adding to the
woes of the Government to provide safe drinking water to it’s citizens. Water demand in India is expected to grow at 2.8% annually and reach 1500 Billion Cubic Meters by 2030. At the same time per capita availability of water is expected to decrease to 1000 cubic meters, leaving 1.2 Billion population of India in a water scarce state.


The Water Quality data of various river stretches has revealed that organic pollution particularly Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) has exceeded the desired water quality criteria in 150 river stretches covering 121 rivers. The major cause identified is discharge of untreated and partially treated domestic effluents by various municipalities across the country.


1) To meet ever increasing demand for drinking water owing to population growth. 2) To meet increase in demand from industries and urban households. Industrialisation and Urbanisation are the pressure points leading to water stress. 3) To meet the requirement of water for Irrigation / Agriculture purposes. 4) To ensure water resources is judiciously managed and over exploitation is avoided altogether. 5) To reduce contamination of water bodies due to
constant dumping of industrial waste. 6) Tackle frequent floods situation in various parts of the country.


The Government of India has formulated the National Water Policy, 2012 recommending measures for conservation, development and management of water resources in the country. The water policy recommends the purpose of Integrated Water Resources Management approach, taking river basin/sub basin as a unit, for planning development and management of Water Resources. This approach will help, in not only increasing water use efficiency, but also minimizing the soil damage, and will help in mitigating the flood problems, in several parts of the country.


Both quality and quantity aspect of Water are interlinked and calls for managing the same in an integrated manner complying with the environmental norms, providing economic incentives to those who are making optimum use of the resource and penalising those who are responsible for water pollution and wastage. By 2050, India would needs storage capacity of 450 BCM. At present, the water storage capacity,available is about 253 BCM. The National Water Policy of 2012, has identified building water storage capacity as a major thrust area.


The water and wastewater treatment market in India is highly fragmented and unorganised. Though the industry is unorganised but are quite cost competitive. EuroIndia Research Centre’s 2012 report titled ‘Business Initiatives and Opportunities in India in the water sector’ estimates US$ 30 billion as the size of Indian water market and US$107 million being pumped as private equity in Indian water and wastewater industry. As per one of the report
prepared to explore market opportunities for Swiss companies in India, it is estimated that equipment made locally is about 30 per cent cheaper than imported equipments owing to lower manufacturing costs and higher import duty on certain goods. Ion Exchange, Jain Irrigation, Ramky Infrastructure, SPML Ltd, Pratibha Industries, L&T, JMC Projects, JUSCO, IL&FS Water are some of the dominant Indian players. Veolia, Acciona Agua, Manila Water and NWSC are some of the foreign players active in the water / wastewater industry in India.


FICCI Water Mission has conducted a survey in 2011 and has estimated that the water demand for the industrial sector will account for 8.5 and 10.1 per cent of the total freshwater abstraction in 2025 and 2050 respectively. This is a 4 per cent rise from 6 per cent in 2010.


In the coming years, securing and managing water resources would be the differentiator among countries hoping to dominate world economy. According to a TechSci Research report titled ‘India Wastewater Treatment Plants Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2018’, the wastewater treatment plants market in India is expected to move towards consolidation by 2018. Based on favourable Government policies and investment expected, the wastewater treatment plants market revenues is likely to grow at 15% CAGR during 2013-2018. The opportunities are visible in segments like reverse osmosis desalination plants, rain water harvesting, water purifier and filters, seawater desalination projects for cities located along the coastline.

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