India - Country Commercial Guide
Environmental Technology
Last published date: 2022-09-08


India’s persistent air and water pollution problems create steady demand for environmental technologies and solutions.  According to a 2020 International Trade Administration Environmental Technologies Report, India’s environmental technologies market is estimated at over $23 billion.  The report also ranked India as the sixth largest market in the world, with subsector rankings of second for water/wastewater management, ninth for air pollution control, and eighth for the solid waste and recycling segments.  In 2021, India’s total imports of environmental technology equipment stood at $1.197 billion, with $147 million sourced from the United States.  

India’s complex environmental regulations hinge on five major pieces of legislation: The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 amended 1991; Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 amended 1988; 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.  New laws making an impact on the regulatory landscape are the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 and the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021. 

In 2010, the Government of India established the National Green Tribunal to better uphold environmental protections in the country.  The Tribunal is an increasingly integral force in the effort to create a more sustainable national development path across industries. 

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the federal agency responsible for implementation and oversight of environmental laws in India.  The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) implements policies framed by the Ministry and provides it with technical services.  However, enforcement is delegated to the state level through State Pollution Control Boards or Pollution Control Committees in the eight union territories that answer to state government heads rather than to federal authorities. 

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.  The State Pollution Control Boards focus on managing these industries in their states, and standards for emission or discharge of industrial pollutants are available on the CPCB website. 

Coal-fired thermal power plants are the single largest contributor to industrial air pollution and are also regulated by the Ministry of Power.  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 in this sector due to increases in technology licensing, engineering contracts, and consultancy work across India.  As environmental technology and solutions become more complex, it can be difficult to track trade figures.  Growth trends can be estimated by tracking India’s imports of the key categories of equipment used to address environmental challenges.  

The Indian government launched the National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008 to enhance climate change mitigation and adaption efforts.  The Climate Change Division of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is India’s nodal agency for climate change cooperation and global negotiations.  It is also the nodal unit for coordinating the National Action Plan on Climate Change.

At the COP 26 in Glasgow, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced five targets to fight climate change:  India will (1) raise its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030; (2) meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030; (3) reduce total projected carbon emissions by one billion tons from 2021 to 2030; (4) reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by more than 45 percent by 2030; and (5) achieve the target of Net Zero by 2070.  India is currently not on track to meet these ambitious targets.

Table: Indian Imports of Environmental Technology Equipment ($ million)






Total Imports to India





Imports from the United States





U.S. Share of Imports





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

Leading Subsectors

Water and Wastewater Management:  Water and wastewater management is the most promising subsector in India’s environmental technology segment.  According to a CPCB report, India’s water treatment capacity is 27.3 percent and sewage treatment capacity is 18.6 percent, with another 5.2 percent capacity to be added. 

India’s demand for water is projected to be twice as much as the 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 is growing. 

The coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are frontrunners in setting up desalination plants to bolster the supply of drinking water.  Some industries are setting up desalination plants to meet process water requirements as well.  As examples, some power plants, oil refineries, iron and steel plants, distilleries, cement plants, and fertilizer plants are pursuing the principle of Reuse, Recycle, and Zero Liquid Discharge to better manage water usage and improve their environmental footprint. 

Air Pollution Control and Air Quality Monitoring:  Air pollution control equipment is in high demand, as a significant proportion of the world’s most polluted cities are in India.  India is the largest emitter of sulfur oxides in the world, accounting for 15 percent of the anthropogenic emissions.  In 2019, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched the National Clean Air Program to reduce air pollution levels by 20 percent within five years in over 100 of the most polluted cities in India.  Under National Clean Air Program, procurement of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems creates export opportunities for U.S. suppliers. 

With respect to industrial air pollution, over 50 percent of India’s installed power generation capacity is fueled by coal-fired power plants.  India has stringent emissions norms for power plants, with a target of 60-80 percent reduction in particulate matter, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and mercury emissions.  Thermal power plants near populous regions, and notably New Delhi, have until the end of 2022 to install Flue Gas Desulphurization units that reduce sulphur dioxide emissions.  Utilities in less polluting areas have until the end of 2024 to comply or they will be required to shut down their plants.  Plants that have been earmarked for retirement will have until the end of 2025 to adjust to emission norms.  Government-owned NTPC Ltd. has been the frontrunner in soliciting bids for Flue Gas Desulphurization systems. 

Municipal Solid Waste Management:  Indian government programs have created demand for waste hauling, compacting, processing, and waste-to-energy equipment that meet international standards, and this creates opportunities for U.S. waste management equipment and service companies.  In addition to new regulations for landfills and solid waste processing, the Indian government has also provided funding for waste-to-energy projects and other solutions for the modernization of its cities. 

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation:  Climate mitigation and adaptation technologies cover products and services at the nexus between the energy, mining, infrastructure, water, and agriculture sectors.  There is demand for climate-friendly technologies, such as renewable energy systems, mitigative technologies, methane capture from the coal industry, and technologies that minimize the effect of climate change on human life and property, such as extreme weather forecasting systems.     


In May 2019, the Indian government created the Jal Shakti Ministry, bringing all water-related agencies under one ministry to provide safe drinking water to the people of India.  Soon after it was founded, the Jal Shakti Ministry launched the Jal Jeevan Mission, designed to provide piped drinking water to 146 million households in 700,000 villages by 2024.  The mission earmarked a budget of $51 billion for states to increase household water connection coverage from 18.33 percent in 2019 to 100 percent by 2024.  This ambitious project is creating opportunities for suppliers of water meters, water quality monitoring systems, water management related IT systems, tertiary treatment technology, and water-related Engineering, Procurement, and Construction companies.  

Major initiatives by the Indian government on air pollution mitigation include the National Clean Air Program.  Launched in January 2019, the National Clean Air Program’s objective is to reduce pollution levels in the 102 most polluted cities in India by 20-30 percent in the next five years.  The National Clean Air Program calls for the reduction of emissions, expansion of air monitoring networks, capacity building for pollution management, and increased public awareness. 

Data collected from Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems will be used as inputs to create Air Quality Index evaluations for Indian cities.  In addition to the procurement of equipment, consultancy services are needed to analyze the data collected, identify the pollution sources, and recommend appropriate actions for pollution abatement.

U.S. companies are advised to monitor websites and publications regarding loans and grant-funded project announcements from the UNDP, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.  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 U.S. Commercial Service Industry Specialist Ritu Arora.