1. Indian Water Industry
International Exhibition & Conference on Water & Wastewater Management
January 9th -11th, 2014
Indian Water Industry - Creating A Better Environment
India faces a desperate situation of water shortage. Its fragile and finite water resources are
depleting while the demands for water from various sectors of the economy are rapidly rising. In
recent years, the industrial and domestic sectors have realized this disparity in the supply and
demand. With the New Economic Policy launched in 1991, the government tried to lead to
market-based approaches and privatization of urban water. The National Water Policy drafted
last year looks at water as an economic good and looks at numerous macro and micro initiatives
in this regard. If you are in the Indian water industry, you are in the right place at the right time.
India has devoted substantial resources to the water supply and sanitation sector, significantly
increasing its commitment since 1980 with the launch of the International Drinking Water
Supply and Sanitation Decade. Today, drinking water investments constitute about 3% of the
national budget. Due to these steps, today 85% of the urban and 75% of the rural population has
access to public water supplies. 48% of the urban population and 36% of the rural population has
access to sanitation services. But clearly, there is a lot of scope and opportunity to do more.
On the Crossroads
The Indian Water Industry is on the crossroads today. In a developing country with huge
requirements for water recycling and purification of drinking water, there is a huge scope for
growth. The total Indian water market is estimated to be about USD 12 billion. While the
government sector contributes about 50% of this, the private industrial sector provides the
remaining business. The overall market is growing at 18% every year.
In 2003, the Indian Government announced the mother of all projects - interlinking of major
river networks all over the country, thereby connecting the water-deficit and the water-abundant
areas. The project valued at over USD 100 billion is one of the largest in the world. It would kick
start the economy and bring a huge set of requirements for equipments and construction.
Market For Water Treatment In India
The water treatment market in India is seeing immense expansion. While no reliable published
figures are available, EverythingAboutWater estimates the total water and wastewater treatment
2. market size to be about USD 420 million. It is growing at about 18% annually with certain
segments like the industrial and drinking water segments seeing even higher growths.
The Key Drivers for Industry Growth
• Increased awareness about drinking water quality and health
• Decreasing water quality and users having to go for ground water
• Environmental pressures on wastewater discharge from govt. pollution control boards
• Reducing availability of water forcing users to go for reuse & recycling of water
• General Industrial and Economic Growth particularly in chemical, pharmaceutical, power plants,
food and textile industry
The industry is currently highly fragmented and unorganized in nature. It can be split into thee
• Large Players like VA Tech Wabag, Degremont, Hindustan Dorr-Oliver, Paramount, Ion
Exchange, Thermax etc
• Medium Sized Players like Doshion, Aquatech, Fontus Water, Driplex, TEAM, Ions Hydro
• Small Players over 500 in number
The water treatment industry is largely concentrated in certain geographical pockets like
Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. Some plant
manufacturers are present in other areas, but this number is limited.
Level of Technology
The market knowledge and skill has been increasing in recent times. Most foreign manufacturers
and products are commonly available in India now. The market is gradually shifting from
chemical treatment and DM plants to membrane technology. Still, there are many huge segments
like power plants and refineries that continue to use DM technology. The concept of wastewater
recycling and zero discharge systems is growing in a big way in recent times.
The government sector is primarily involved in the raw water treatment and the sewage treatment
operations. On the other hand, the private industrial sector includes equipments for clarification,
sludge treatment, aeration, disinfection and filtration. Conventionally, the market has used
demineralisers for treatment. However, over the last few years, Reverse Osmosis technology has
grown in the market and gradually replaced DM. Newer technologies like Ultrafiltration and
Electrodialysis are also entering the market now.
3. A Whole Different Market
The market has undergone a tremendous change in the last few years. Today, there are a dozen
medium-sized companies who have rapidly increased their operations and won a number of
projects. Also hundreds of small system-integrators have come up all over the country,
addressing local requirements.
There has also been a geographical decentralisation that has taken place. Earlier the water
treatment industry was largely concentrated in Maharashtra. Over the last ten years, pockets of
concentration have started all over the country in Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta, Ahmedabad and
Hyderabad. This has had a positive and negative impact. While the market has grown and costs
come down, at the same time, the quality and reliability of many of these suppliers has been
In the last few years, many international majors have also entered the market. While huge
players like Veolia Water, Suez de Lyonnaise (Degremont) and VA TECH Wabag are present in
the market, chemical majors like Nalco and GE Betz-Dearborn also have operations. Indigenous
development of various treatment vessels like resins, RO membranes and vessels have reduced
costs and made various technologies easily available on a mass-scale. The other interesting trend
in the market has been the move towards standardization of treatment systems as standard DM
and RO plants have become more common over the last two years.
International Companies with a significant presence in India
• Veolia Water, France
• Degremont, France
• VA Tech Wabag, Austria
• Thames Water, United Kingdom
• GE Water, United States
• Dow Chemicals, United States of
• Dupont, United States of America
• Grundfos Pumps, Denmark
• KSB Pumps, Germany
• Nalco Chemicals, United States of
• Drewtreat Chemicals, United States of
• Krohne Marshall, Germany
• Endress + Hauser, Germany
• Emerson (Fisher Rosemount), United
States of America
• Koch Group, United States of America
• Hydranautics, United States of America
• Pentair Group, United States of America
• Schlumberger / Actaris, France
• Amiantit, Saudi Arabia
• Netzsch, Germany
• George Fischer
• Aplaco, Saudi Arabia
• Metrohm, Switzerland
And many more...
Future Growth Opportunities
A number of factors are fuelling growth in the market. Rapidly rising population has led to
increased requirements for drinking water and sewage treatment. While this is largely in the
urban areas at the moment, this could shift to smaller towns and villages in times to come. At the
4. same time, water scarcity has led to many industries going in for water recycling systems to meet
their requirements. At the same time, there is a growing awareness of environmental issues
among industry as well as the public. Widespread coverage of environment issues by the media
and NGOs has forced industries to install water treatment equipment to prevent social and legal
action against them.
The government has also got into the action by imposing stringent legislations regarding
wastewater treatment. There is also a compulsory requirement of Environment Clearances from
Pollution Control Boards at the Centre and the states. The recent Supreme Court directive to
move polluting units out of Delhi is also likely to act as an impetus to future sales of water
treatment equipment. Also at the same time, many existing treatment plants would need to be
replaced or upgraded to meet with more stringent standards.
Drinking water problems in India are quite different from those in developed countries. The main
concern is with disinfecting the potable water at the point of use. Traditionally, the point of use
market has been dominated by ultraviolet purifiers and filters. One company Eureka Forbes
holds over 50% of the total purifier market with their UV purifiers, based on their excellent
direct-marketing and service network. Industrial majors like Ion Exchange and Thermax have
tried entering this market, but with limited success. In the last year, domestic reverse osmosis
purifiers have struck the market and have been hugely successful. Recent advancements in
nanofiltration and ultrafiltration are now entering this area and offer future opportunities.
One big area of growth has been the increase in bottled water plants in India. With liberalization
and increased awareness of water quality, hundreds of bottled water brands have entered the
market. The USD 250 million bottled water market is growing at the rate of 75-80% and a large
number of reverse osmosis plants have come up in the last two years. With multinationals like
Pepsico and Coke getting established in the market, the quality and technology in their plants has
Indian manufacturers have also tried to export and build their presence in overseas markets.
Treatment plants have been exported to the Middle-East and South-East Asia.
The contribution of membrane desalination plants is progressively increasing. A number of
reverse osmosis desalination plants are being installed by industries to meet their increasing
water needs. In 1999, a 4500m3/day capacity RO plant has been commissioned at Sikka for
Gujarat Electricity Board by Ion Exchange. A 10,000m3/day seawater RO plant has been
commissioned by Thermax for NIRMA at Bhavnagar using Hydranautics membrane. RO has
also been employed by many industries for waste water recycling. A 12000m3/day waste water
RO plant has been recently commissioned by Aquatech(Asia) in Rashtriya Chemical Factory,
Mumbai. Ion Exchange has commissioned another 3000 m3/day waste water RO plant at IFFCO,
Phulpur. Since early nineties, hundreds of membrane based brackish water desalination plants of
capacities of 10 to 100 cubic meters per day were set up for providing safe drinking water to
selected problem villages in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
5. On the other hand, several thermal desalination plants have also been operating in the coastal
areas of the country for inhouse use by the industries. A 48000 cubic meters per day Multi-effect
Desalination plant has been commissioned in 1999 at Reliance Petrochemicals Complex in the
western coast of the country at Jamnagar. The industrial giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has also
commissioned a thermal desalination plant for their cement industry.
Challenges on the Road Ahead
The industry still faces constraints moving ahead. The regulatory bodies lack the teeth to enforce
many of the guidelines and the mandatory requirement of a functional treatment plant gets
bypassed sometimes. Polluting industries have adopted an uncaring attitude and it has required
active support of many NGOs to get them to act. There is still a large capital investment required
for many treatment plants and most industries try to avoid it or go for a short-cut solution.
Awareness and recognition of newer technologies has been slow in coming.
In recent times, the technical expertise and know how of the top water treatment manufacturers is
pretty standard. Therefore, their success in getting big project orders has been dependent on their
pricing, project execution skill and process engineering ability. This trend is likely to increase in
the coming years.
The Indian water industry is today on the crossroads. In a developing country with core
requirements, a need to play socially responsible and proactive role is essential. With proper
direction from the government and appropriate steps from the industry leaders, it is poised to
take off in the future.