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Water and Wastewater South Asia India Water Treatment Trade Opportunities Export Potential

India Water and Wastewater Treatment Industry

Water and wastewater management is a promising subsector in India’s environmental technology segment.  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 comprehensive water and wastewater treatment and distribution infrastructure.  Demand for high-end treatment technologies is growing in India.

According to a 2022 Frost & Sullivan report, the Indian water and wastewater treatment market will likely reach $2.08 billion by 2025 from $1.31 billion in 2020, registering growth at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7 percent.  The report also ranked India as the sixth largest market for environmental technologies in the world, with subsector rankings of second for water/wastewater management.  

Various governmental initiatives, such as the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Jal Jeevan Mission, and Community Drinking Water Schemes, contribute to the growth of the Indian water and wastewater treatment market. 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.   

The private sector power, food and beverage, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, refineries, and textiles industries prefer advanced treatment technological systems such as reverse osmosis membranes for treating their wastewater. These water treatment markets are gradually shifting from chemical treatment and demineralization plants to membrane technology. The concept of wastewater recycling and zero discharge systems is becoming more widely accepted as new technologies such as sequencing batch reactor (SBR) and membrane bioreactor (MBR) based treatment gain in adoption. 

The coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are frontrunners in setting up desalination plants to bolster drinking water supply.  Some industries are also setting up desalination plants to meet process water requirements.  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.  

The growth in this industry makes it very attractive for U.S. exporters, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, and new-to-market companies. Technologies and services in demand include:

  • Engineering and construction services
  • UV disinfection
  • Water reuse equipment and services (process specific)
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Advanced filtration
  • Nitrification
  • Membrane filtration
  • Biological denitrification
  • Reverse osmosis (RO)
  • Membrane bioreactor systems
  • Forward osmosis (FO)

High tariffs, particularly in the area of monitoring and instrumentation, and price sensitivity in government tenders, which favors the lowest bidder with little assessment of cost/quality trade-offs, are examples of market challenges for the export of environmental technologies and services to India.

For entry into the Indian market, it is preferable for U.S. companies to identify quality partners who know this market and are well-versed in procurement issues. Strategic planning, due diligence, and consistent follow-ups are the prerequisites for doing business successfully in India. 

U.S. companies may consider the following local trade shows to showcase their technologies and meet Indian companies.

  • Water and Solid Waste Expo, February 16-18, 2023 - New Delhi
  • Water Today’s Water Expo, February 22-25, 2023 – Chennai
  • Water India Expo, March 26-29, 2023 – New Delhi
  • Water & Plumb Skills Expo 2023, May 18 - 19, 2023 – New Delhi

The experienced U.S. Commercial Service team in India can help your market entry or expansion in the Indian subcontinent.  For further information regarding this sector, please contact Commercial Specialists: Ritu Arora / Sangeeta Taneja / Malarvizhi Parimel.