25 January 2020

Table of Contents for Event Focus-IFAT India

Event Focus-IFAT India

Emerging opportunities


Fast declining natural resources have raised the importance of water treatment and wastewater management systems across the world, reports SURESH R MENON



IFAT India 2016, the country’s leading trade fair on water, sewage, refuse and recycling that will be held from September 28 to 30 at the Bombay Exhibition Center (BEC) in Mumbai will highlight a range of solutions for modern waste management and waste water treatment. The event, which will showcase the latest products, technologies, and solutions and attract more than 5,500 trade visitors, is expected to offer an excellent opportunity to the 140 exhibitors from 16 countries to tap potential benefits from the highly promising national market in this segment. These international exhibitors will get to showcase a vast range of their environmental technologies and services along with a comprehensive product portfolio comprising simple to technologically advanced machines and solutions for water, sewage, waste, recycling and energy conservation.

Water, a critical necessity for the survival of Planet Earth, has been under constant pressure due to the requirements stemming from an exploding population. The scenario is quite bad in countries like China and India, which lead the global population index. Moreover, the race to achieve the economically developed status on the back of expanding industrialzation has further resulted in an additional strain on natural resources. According to the Planning Commission of India, the country’s water demand will increase to almost 1,180 BCM (billion cubic meters) by 2050. To meet such mammoth requirements, our country needs to explore more of the scarce resources besides identifying ways to preserve and reuse it.

According to analysts, by 2051 India’s urban centres might generate close to 120,000 mld of wastewater while rural India will generate not less than 50,000 mld. These alarming trends witnessed worldwide call for technologies that can offer high-end practices and methods to resolve the water crisis. Companies offering technical assistance in resolving this growing concern through treatment systems are expected to find major opportunities in the market, especially in developing nations like India. However, like any new products or technologies being introduced, the water treatment and wastewater management industry while exploring the market opportunities, also faces a severe challenge in offering innovative solutions, which are cost-effective.

There will also be a major focus on Waste-to-Energy processes and technologies displaying innovations and solutions for the prevailing challenges in the Indian market. The participants at this 3-day environmental trade fair will also get to attend high-class supporting programs such as workshops, panel discussions and live demonstrations conducted by national and international experts and practicing managers from a cross-section of industries, environmental associations and municipal sectors in a realistic working situation. Furthermore, they will get a chance to exchange the latest industry knowledge while interacting with innumerable potential business contacts.

Recent studies have confirmed that the energy generation potential contained in wastewater, as well as bio-solids and biogases, exceeds by 10 times the energy used to treat it. This undoubtedly represents an incredible business opportunity for the wastewater industry. Because of its large population, scarce water resources, rapid industrialisation and an enormous amount of waste generation, India has tremendous potential in terms of waste management and environmental protection. However, since an effective administration in the areas of water, sewage, refuse and recycling is currently missing, there is a strong need for more and more investments and information. This is exactly where IFAT India steps in and provides innovative technologies and solutions to existing problems.



Estimated at a market size of $4 billion, the Indian water and wastewater segment is steadily witnessing a growth of about 10-12 per cent each year. Of the total market volume, more than 50 per cent of the demand for water treatment and wastewater management systems is driven by government-related projects, and the remainder is bifurcated between private run industries and residential housing units. Though these eco-friendly and technologically superior systems are being well-accepted in the urban infrastructure space, it still needs to improve among residential and individual housing units. However, the government’s aggressive push on building a ‘Smart India’ with ‘Smart Infrastructure’, especially through initiatives like the Ganga Rejuvenation Plan and Yamuna Action Plan, offers immense scope for improvement in terms of user acceptance and increased usage patterns of such products in India.

The other crucial factor which is expected to drive the market for water treatment and wastewater management industry is the rising profile of urbanisation. With cities becoming more clustered and populated, the need for safe and healthy water resources is expected to increase further. Such a situation will compel occupants to seek and embrace technologies that can assist in water conservation and re-usage. In addition, growing awareness of the benefits of water treatment and scarcity of clean water will drive the market for water treatment systems in the coming years.

The approach towards water treatment and wastewater management systems is expected to improve further with industries and companies imposing more stringent operational norms towards energy efficiency. The rising pressure on industries to meet carbon credits and to adopt energy-efficient practices will further add to the demand for such technologies and systems in the coming years. The increasing number of industrial parks, special economic zones (SEZ) and manufacturing hubs being developed and planned across the country, is expected to further widen the market scope for the water treatment and wastewater management sector in India.



Currently, urban India generates nearly 55 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) and 38 billion liters of sewage ever year. This is further supplemented by industries that produce enormous quantities of solid and liquid wastes. This is a recurring problem, which will only intensify in the days to come. Meanwhile, a government report prepared on Urban and Industrial Water Supply and Sanitation for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-2017) has made the following observations about wastewater in India:

  • Urban and industrial India will witness significant acceleration in the use of water and discharge of waste.
  • Indian cities worry about water, but they do not bother much about the waste this water is likely to generate.
  • The challenge related to sewage collection and its treatment has not been given the attention it deserves.
  • No Indian city can boast of a complete and proper sewerage system, which can effectively overcome the sanitation and pollution challenge.

Due to the capital intensity of the current waste management system, cities are able to provide only for a few and not for all.

If sewage systems are not comprehensive – spread across the city to collect, convey and intercept waste of all – then pollution cannot be kept under control.

The above observations prove that everything is not well as far as sewage treatment in India is concerned. To make waste-to-energy projects viable, factors such as the scale of investment, plant capacity, quality of the waste, statutory requirements and project risks have to be given due consideration. While such projects have been a success worldwide, India is yet to stitch up together a viable technology option.



In India and other underdeveloped countries, untreated wastes find their way into landfills and water bodies. These wastes not only cause severe contamination of water but are also responsible for emitting greenhouse gases and polluting air quality. This is where waste-to-energy comes to play a significant role. By adopting a suitable technology, solid and liquid wastes can be treated before being disposed of. Such treatment will also reduce the quantity of waste. The residual waste can then be used to generate energy and check environmental pollution.

This is a great way of responding to India’s energy needs. Our country has been facing a severe shortage of power and to overcome the deficit, state and central governments are increasingly seeking out alternative and renewable energy sources. Between the two, the cost of converting waste to energy is higher than other renewable sources. In any case, the process still remains a better alternative since it addresses waste disposal as well as power generation.



At the Waste Management & Sustainability Summit held in April this year, it was pointed out that the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (aka Clean India Mission) in October 2014 has generated many new business opportunities for the cleaning, waste management and environment companies in India. However, companies involved in cleaning and waste management in India are challenged by structural, technology and cost issues. To find a viable solution and investors for the waste management infrastructure, some of these companies are looking beyond the Indian borders.



The India government has recognized waste to energy as a renewable energy and supports it through various subsidies and incentives. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is promoting all the technology options available for setting up projects for recovery of energy from urban wastes. The MNRE is also promoting research on waste to energy by providing financial support for research and development (R&D) projects on cost sharing basis. The MNRE also offers financial assistance for projects involving applied R&D and studies on resource assessment, technology upgradation, and performance evaluation.

To control the magnitude of waste and pollution, India government has announced a Call for Proposals for Municipal Solid Waste to Energy projects under its Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission. The Department of Biotechnology, functioning under Science and Technology Ministry, has highlighted the impact on public health and environment due to the unscientific disposal of waste.

However, significantly higher costs have prohibited the municipal authorities to scale up their facilities for the proper management of municipal solid waste (MSW).

Market research firm Global Market Insights has forecast that the government initiative to manage MSW in India will grow at 6.5 per cent CAGR, at par with that of China, Japan, and South Korea. The technological options under consideration are composting, vermicomposting, anaerobic digestion/biomethanation, incineration, gasification and pyrolysis as well as the production of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). The Clean India Mission will play a significant role in the cleaning up of the Ganga. As millions of people defecate in the open along the river, this is another leading cause of pollution.

The ambitious Namami Gange project, unveiled by the Narendra Modi-led government, is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and dynamic plan to clean up the Ganga river.

The program focuses on rejuvenating the river, especially in stretches that go dry during some months of the year. The plan also includes regenerating the ecology of Ganga. The Union government has invited the corporate sector as well as local citizen groups to take over the work of setting up and managing sewage and other effluent treatment plants along the river. Meanwhile, it is also trying to develop an innovative financing model whereby the Central Government will offer a small amount upfront, whereas the rest of the costs will have to be met from 15-year annuities.

Recently, Uttarakhand committed to launching India’s first project to produce electricity from non-segregated waste. The state will use German technology called gasification to produce 25 megawatt of power every day by using approximately 500 metric tonnes of waste. The technology will use ultra-high temperature in the absence of oxygen to treat waste and convert it into synthetic gas, which will be used to produce electricity. The process will see no emission, landfill or other waste while making electricity.

The plant is likely to be a Private Public Partnership (PPP) project and would be based in Roorkee. The State government is said to have already given land to a private company for kick-starting the project. The company, which will own the plant, will also build, own, operate and maintain it. The State government will not be incurring any expenditure in running it, but the State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand (SIDCUL) will be overseeing the project along with other departments. The plant will fetch waste from Dehradun, Roorkee, Haridwar, Rishikesh and adjoining areas every day. All kinds of waste, including hazardous, agricultural and biomedical waste can be used in the process.



Business opportunities can be seen in sewage, industrial wastes, and hazardous wastes through the municipal solid waste management projects. It is possible to produce eco-friendly products through MSW such as charcoal, compost, nutrient rich digestate or bio-oil that have excellent market demand.

Furthermore, companies in this segment can tap opportunities aimed at offering support services like turnkey solutions in water & sewage recycling and waste management, not only in India but also in many foreign countries.

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