Guest author: Danny Jeong | General Manager | Toray Chemical Korea Inc.

India has been picked as one of the top four markets in global water treatment with Brazil, China and United States, by Global Water Intelligence in Global Water Market 2014. The country is experiencing rapid industrialization, population growth and economic growth, and to sustain this demands more reliable supplies of municipal and industrial water. Municipal and industrial wastewater treatment and reuse will be the most exciting area for future growth. Waste water management has been given a high priority in the 2012 National Water Policy, which also supports water reuse for beneficial purposes. International companies are expected to enter the market to tap into these opportunities.

India is one of the biggest markets in size and growth rate, but among the top markets, the volume of India’s capital expenditure is the lowest, which suggests that India has the biggest potential to grow further. (See below)

Even though the Water Market in India shows a lot of potential, there are many challenges restricting its growth. For example, the water and wastewater infrastructure is inadequate, of poor quality and in need of reform. Eighteen percent of the world’s population live in India, with only 4% of the total usable water resources (Ministry of Water Resources). Official data show that the annual per capita availability of water has already been decreased in the past 10 years (from 1,816 cubic meter in the year 2001 to 1,545 cubic meter in 2011). At the same time, a large populace has never had access to safe water. The planning commission has budgeted USD 26.5 Billion in the 2012-2017 plan to provide safe water to all urban and rural Indians. Treatment of waste water, sewage treatment and solid, liquid and chemical waste, water technology, environmental services, desalination companies, consulting and engineering are some services that India will require to tackle the water problem.

Maharashtra is emerging as a hub for the water sector. Over 12 international companies have already set up design and engineering centers in Mumbai and Pune. Currently there are more than 1200 companies dealing in water and wastewater treatment in Maharashtra, they mainly cater to the small & medium sector. Pune and Nashik are going to be the largest hub for manufacturing & fabrication industry in pumps, instrumentation & monitoring equipment. A centralized wastewater treatment & recycling plant is under planning stage for the cities of Mumbai and Pune.

Demand management, quality of service provision, and water reuse are some of the areas where improvement is required. So private sector involvement is expected to play a crucial role in improving the state of water and sanitation service provision. Traditionally, the water sector in India has been owned and operated by the government. But the Indian government supports the private sector to contribute and initiate various regulatory reforms. Not being able to solve all the problems single-handedly, the government is encouraging the private sector to participate and introduce regulatory reforms. It is encouraging public-private partnerships (PPPs) at a range of levels and by various means however, institutional weakness remains a restrictive factor slowing the pace of PPPs in the country.

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