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In spite of increasing awareness about the environment, the implementation of wastewater treatment project in India becomes economically unviable due to subsidised water tariff and low regulatory compliance. “Industries do realise the importance of effluent and wastewater treatment but the economics and the poor compliance mechanism do not support the adoption of the right practices. So as the cost of water increases, the cost of noncompliance to regulations increases, the viability of the wastewater treatment solutions will become higher and adoption will increase as well. Government needs to work together with the municipalities and industries on this, and we need to be careful to maintain and in fact improve the availability of water for agriculture and at the right cost,” says Vishal Sharma, Managing Director, Nalco Water India Limited.
SMEs, which dominate the manufacturing landscape in India, often cite ‘high-cost of water treatment technology’ as the reason for not-adopting these solutions. “The problem is not just the cost of the solutions, but the current low cost of water as well coupled with the low cost of non-compliance. As the latter two rise, I think the economic equation will change and the viability of water treatment solutions will become very easy. Municipalities and governments need to address this mix in the situation and not just expect the cost of the water treatment technology to come down,” he says.
The government has undertaken initiatives such as Swachh Bharat, Clean Ganga, etc as a part of its larger plans to reduce environmental pollution. This some experts believe could trigger the demand for water treatment solutions in the country. “These initiatives are welcome, and will lead to what I would call as ‘better public health and sanitation’. We are talking of a cleaner environment and rivers, and this is a part of the progress India needs to see and make. Our Prime Minister and Government are making the right attempts. Having said that, we should celebrate when we actually see the implementation of these plans on ground and the eventual benefits are visible,” adds Sharma.
From a water treatment solution providers point of view, these projects are beneficial as they spread the right message to industry and also generate direct business opportunities for them as these concepts convert into real infrastructure projects on ground. “Surely as these projects roll out, we will see a spill over effect in the country driven by increase public awareness,” explains Sharma.