While water is a renewable resource, it is at the same time a limited resource. According to a report by the United Nations, India is the biggest consumer of groundwater in the world. By contrast, among major countries, groundwater levels in India are going down faster than anywhere else. With increasing water scarcity, the only sources of water are the sea, sewage and industrial waste water, which need to be treated, reused and managed without damaging the environment. It is essential for the country to reuse water and the demand for water treatment and management technologies are on the rise.

The country is withdrawing 251 km³ of groundwater every year, which is more than the USA and China combined. Over 60% of irrigation comes from groundwater, which takes up over 80% of the total water usage in the country. Besides, nearly 30% of urban water supply and 70% of rural water supply is from groundwater. Due to rising population, increasing urbanization and industrial developments, India is a major water consumer. The demand for water has increased by three folds in the past two decades, while the supply remains the same. Owing to growing demand for affordable and portable water from households, commercial and industrial sectors, the water purifier market is projected to reach $4.1 billion by 2024 as compared to $1.1 billion in 2015.

To meet the challenges, the Government is taking various initiatives and brought in policies which are essential for the growth of the water treatment industry. Growing industrial sectors together with favorable Government policies like Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) are making an increasing number of industries to treat waste water for reuse. ZLD is a treatment process in which the entire waste water is purified and recycled and can help to ensure safety of groundwater. Manufacturing and power plants can meet environmental standards and reduce their reliance on freshwater. India has mandated ZLD systems across industries like thermal power plants, iron & steel, textiles, distilleries and pulp & paper. The Indian ZLD market is expected to reach $4 billion by 2020.

The Indian Railways also targets to cut down its water bill and save up to $61 million annually by purchasing recycled water from private companies. The Indian Railways Water Policy is expected to be rolled out on 22nd March 2017 and envisages buying treated water from water treatment plants for a much lower cost. This move will encourage private sector investments to set up water purification plants and the Railways will ensure the purchase of treated water from these units.

Considering that currently less than 30% of industrial waste water is treated before release into the environment, the Supreme Court in India came out with a green order in February. Under this order, all industrial units across the country have to set up effluent treatment plants in working condition within three months. If the polluting industrial units do not fulfil the conditions, they will face immediate closure. However, the outlook for water management companies got brighter after the order. Companies with innovative technologies for water management will benefit as it is expected to boost their earnings.

The Union Budget 2017-2018 released on 1st February, 2017 has increased allocation for the Union Water Resources Ministry by 11% to about $1.05 billion from $0.95 billion in the previous year. In the budget speech, the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley said that the Government proposes to provide safe drinking water to over 28,000 arsenic and fluoride affected habitations across the country in the next four years. The Government is giving priority for piped water supply, under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).

Recently, the Central Government in India has awarded projects worth $161 million for setting up sewage treatment infrastructure in Patna to keep the Ganga clean. The amount will be given to different private national and international companies including GAA Germany JV, Larsen & Turbo Ltd and Voltas Ltd for setting up Sewage Treatment Plants, renovation of one existing Plant, construction of two pumping stations and laying of new underground sewage network of about 400 km. In the year 2015 the estimated sewage produced in India was 61,948 million liters per day against an available treatment capacity of 23,277 million liters per day.

A lot of investment and innovation is going into this sector and the capital expenditure on Water & Waste Water infrastructure in India may increase by 83% in the next five years. The University of Edinburgh in UK, along with its Indian partners is developing a solar-powered water purification system with an aim to provide safe drinking water to rural India. The system uses solar energy to generate high-energy particles inside solar-powered materials, which activate oxygen in the water to incinerate harmful pollutants and bacteria.

A unique eco-friendly waste water treatment plant, with a capacity of 75,000 liters, is almost ready at the Mathura district. This plant is a combination of water harvesting and waste water treatment with the use of certain types of weeds and plants and will not depend on chemicals or energy. Such plants are now being constructed in all the states.

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is putting up a 5 million liters per day (MLD) seawater desalination plant in Odisha’s coastal district of Ganjam. Desalination technology has grown and matured rapidly over the years. The sea water desalination market will grow by 15%, with about 30 projects in the range of 10-50 MLD expected to come up in many coastal areas in the next four years.

India’s Waste Water management market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8-10% during 2015-2020. India’s Water & Waste Water Industry will see enormous growth prospects in the coming years. High demand for potable water, Governments initiatives for water reuse and the increasing foreign investments by global players like Va Tech Wabag Ltd., Ecolab Inc., and Suez Environnement S.A. are the major growth supporting factors for the industry in India. The National Water Mission of India targets to reduce water consumption by 20% in all sectors by 2030. To meet this, it is critical to conserve, recycle and reuse water.

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