India - Country Commercial Guide
Environmental Technology

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-22


India’s persistent air and water pollution problems will create a steady demand for environmental technologies and solutions in the coming years.  As of 2020, industry experts estimate India’s overall environmental technologies market, including goods and services, to be worth over $23 billion.  The International Trade Administration’s 2019 Top Markets Report on Environmental Technologies (released in April 2020) ranks India as the sixth largest world market overall, with subsector rankings of second for water/wastewater management, ninth for air pollution control, and eighth for solid waste and recycling segments.   

India’s complex environmental regulations hinge on five major pieces of legislation:

  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, amended 1991;
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, amended 1988;
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972;
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, amended 1988; and
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, amended 1987. 

In 2010, the Indian federal government established the National Green Tribunal to better uphold these environmental protections.  The Tribunal is an increasingly integral force in the effort to create a more sustainable national development path. 

India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) is the federal agency responsible for implementation and oversight of environmental laws.  The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) implements the policies framed by the MoEFCC and provides technical services to the Ministry.  Enforcement, however, is delegated to the state level through State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs), or Pollution Control Committees in the eight union territories that answer to state government heads rather than the federal authority.  India has 28 states and eight union territories.

There is inconsistent application of rules across states, weak regulatory compliance, and occasional issues with corruption.  The CPCB has identified 17 highly polluting industrial categories, including iron and steel plants, non-ferrous metallurgical units, pharmaceutical and petrochemical complexes, fertilizers and pesticide plants, thermal power plants, textile manufacturers, pulp and paper factories, tanneries, and chlor-alkali units. 

Standards for emission or discharge of pollutants from various industries are available on the CPCB website.  The SPCBs focus on managing these 17 industries in their states.  Coal fired thermal power plants, which are regulated by the Ministry of Power, are the single largest contributor to industrial air pollution.  For issues relating to municipal wastewater management, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and state level Urban Local Bodies are important stakeholders.   

Increasingly, U.S. exports of services are overtaking exports of equipment, due to increases in technology licensing, engineering contracts, and consultancy work in this market.  As environmental technology and solutions become more complex, it can be difficult to track exact trade figures.  Growth trends can be estimated by tracking India’s imports of the key categories of equipment used to address environmental challenges.  In 2020, India’s total imports of environmental technology equipment was $931 million, with $106 million in imports from the United States.  

The Government of India launched the National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008 to enhance climate change mitigation and adaption efforts.  The Climate Change Division of MoEFCC is India’s nodal agency for climate change cooperation and global negotiations.  It is also responsible for coordinating the National Action Plan on Climate Change.  India launched the third edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index and Dashboard in June 2021.  Developed in collaboration with the United Nations in India and launched in 2018, the Index documents and ranks the progress on 115 indicators by the Indian States and Union Territories toward achieving the SDGs.  More details are available in SDG India Index Launch 2021.

Indian Imports of Environmental Technology Equipment

Units: $ million





Total India Imports





Imports from the United States





U.S. Share of Imports (%)





Source: Global Trade Atlas (HTS 842121, 842139, 842199, 902710)

Sub-sector Best Prospects

Promising sub-sectors in pollution control equipment include:

  • Water and wastewater management / Water quality monitoring                                                   
  • Air pollution control / Air quality monitoring                                                                 
  • Municipal solid waste management
  • Environmental engineering procurement construction services
  • Climate change mitigation and climate change after effect containment technologies

Water and Wastewater Management

Water and wastewater management is the most promising sub-sector in India’s environmental technology segment.  Nearly 40 percent of industrial water and 63 percent of municipal wastewater gets discharged untreated into local rivers, lakes and streams, and less than one percent of treated wastewater is reused.  Some cities, such as New Delhi, Surat, Bengaluru, and Nagpur, have created the infrastructure to recycle municipal wastewater for non-potable use.  India’s demand for water is projected to reach twice its available supply by 2030.  To overcome these challenges, public and private sector facilities have ambitious plans to develop a comprehensive water and wastewater treatment and distribution infrastructure.  Demand for high end treatment technologies such as desalination is growing. 

The coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are front runners in setting up desalination plants for India’s drinking water supply.  Power plants, oil refineries, iron and steel plants, distilleries, cement and fertilizer plants, and other industries are pursuing the principle of Reuse, Recycle, and Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD).  Some of these industries are setting up desalination plants to meet processed water requirements. 

Air Pollution Control/Air Quality Monitoring

Air pollution control equipment is also in high demand, as many of the world’s most polluted cities are in India.  In 2019, MOEFF launched the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) to reduce air pollution levels by 20 percent within five years in over 100 of the most polluted cities in India. 

Procurement of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems (CAAQMS) under this project is a key export opportunity for U.S. companies.  On the industrial air pollution front, over 50 percent of India’s installed power generation capacity is fueled by coal.  India has set stringent emission norms for power plants with a target of 60-80 percent reduction in particulate matter (PM), sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury emissions by 2022.  To comply with this mandate, power producers must procure and install technologies for emissions control.  Seventy percent of power producers have not yet made progress in implementing control systems to reduce pollution to the stipulated level.  Government owned NTPC Limited has been the frontrunner in soliciting bids for Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) systems.  India is the largest emitter of sulfur oxides in the world, accounting for 15 percent of the anthropogenic emissions. 

Municipal Solid Waste Management

Waste management equipment and service companies will also find opportunities in India, as government programs have created demand for waste hauling, compacting, processing, and waste-to-energy equipment that meets international standards.  In 2014, the Government of India launched its flagship urban cleanup and sanitation program, the Swachh Bharat Mission, with the twin objectives of making urban India free of open defecation and implementing 100 percent scientific practices for solid waste management. 

Government records show significant strides in both these areas – open defecation has been eradicated from most of India’s urban areas and the scientific processing of solid waste, which was only 18 percent in 2014, has achieved 65 percent coverage in 2020.  In addition to new regulations for landfills and solid waste processing, the government has also been providing funding for waste-to-energy projects and other solutions to upgrade municipal infrastructures.

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

Climate mitigation and adaptation technologies cover a range of products and services which lie at the interface of the energy, mining, infrastructure, water, and agriculture sectors.  There is need for renewable energy technologies, mitigative technologies (such as capture of methane from coal mines), and technologies which minimize the effect of climate change on human life and property (such as extreme weather forecasting systems).    


In May 2019, the government created the new Jal Shakti Ministry, bringing all water-related agencies under one ministry to provide safe drinking water to the people of India.  The Jal Shakti Ministry immediately launched its Jal Jeevan Mission—a national initiative to provide piped drinking water to 146 million households across 700,000 villages by 2024.  The mission earmarked a budget of $51 billion to be given to states to increase household water connection coverage from 18.3 percent in 2019 to 100 percent by 2024.  This ambitious project will create opportunities for suppliers of water meters, water quality monitoring systems, water management related IT systems, tertiary treatment technologies, and water EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) companies.  

Major initiatives by the Government of India on air pollution mitigation include the National Clean Air Program (NCAP), which was launched in January 2019 with the objective of reducing pollution levels in India’s 102 most polluted cities by 20 to 30 percent over the next five years.  The NCAP calls for the reduction of emissions, the expansion of air monitoring networks, capacity building for pollution management, and the strengthening of public awareness.  The NCAP also targets the installation 150 new CAAQMS, and an increase in the number of manual monitoring stations from 703 to 1500.  As of February 2021, a total of 193 CAAQMS had been installed.  The data collected from these stations will be used to create Air Quality Index evaluations.  In addition to the procurement of equipment, these developments will necessitate the need for consultancy services to analyze data, identify the pollution source apportionment, and recommend appropriate actions for pollution abatement.

We advise U.S. companies to monitor the U.N. Development Business, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation websites and publications for soft loan and grant funded project announcements.  These projects offer significant front-end consulting opportunities and the possibility to supply equipment during the project implementation phase. 

For more information about opportunities in this sector, contact Arup Kumar Mitra at