07 August 2020

Interview - Ajay Popat (ION Exchange)

Alternate water sources offer a huge opportunity for us


Ion Exchange (India) Ltd., pioneers and leading innovators in water management and waste water treatment are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. AJAY POPAT, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT (TECHNOLOGY, CORPORATE AFFAIRS & MARKETING), ION EXCHANGE (INDIA) LTD. offered ANUJA ABRAHAM as assessment of the opportunities available for the company in the urban and rural space.

Tell us about the projects you are currently doing in the water and waste management domain?

We are working with several national and international projects. We are also involved in the Middle East for the Oil and Gas industry; we are working abroad for the steel and mining industry and in construction related areas like hotels, residential complexes. In India, we are doing large projects for companies like Reliance Industries, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, India Bulls, NTPC etc. We offer total water management solutions which include water, liquid waste treatment right up to zero liquid discharge. We have completed a project for Synthetic Rubber Ltd in Panipat. We are doing a similar project for Reliance Industries at Silvassa, the biggest polyester facility in the world; completed another zero discharge project for Holcim Cements, and we are doing another project abroad through Fluor Daniel with a company for which we have offered zero discharge solutions.


Other than industrial areas, in what other areas are your technology employed?

We have developed indigenous technologies for the needs of rural India. Almost 80 per cent of our population stay in rural areas where ground water, the main source of water, is contaminated with arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, iron or
brackishness. So we have developed technologies to remove each of these contaminants and commercialised them. These systems are fitted into hand pumps made adaptable to local conditions. The ion specific resins are developed by us, converted into systems and then attached to hand pumps to treat the fluoride, arsenic, nitrate and iron. In the same way we have developed technologies that can eliminate activated carbon which is used for dechlorination or odour removal. In the domestic market, we have developed and commercialised an RO technology called eco-RO where one can get 60-70 per cent recovery whilst removing excess salts, pesticides, pharma residues et al. So there are several innovations in the rural area, in the domestic space, in the industrial water and waste treatment and municipal areas which we have carried out and commercialised.


Which are the urban local bodies to whom you are offering support?

We are supporting the initiatives of adapting cost effective, advanced water and waste treatment solutions to Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Mumbai Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Jal Board, also with some of the progressive municipal corporations in A and B class towns. We are executing several projects for sewage treatment and energy recovery in Gujarat.


What are the opportunities you will be seeking in the new urban expansion?

Most of the towns do not have adequate sewage collection and disposal. Sanitation is the most important thing related to health, the new government in power rightly puts its focus on sanitation. Sanitation and sewage treatment is one big opportunity for us. As a country, we are perennially short of good water but we have abundant seawater. So another area for opportunity for us is seawater desalination. This water can be used for industries and community drinking purpose. Our company has set up 12 seawater desalination plant along the coast of Arabian  and Bay of Bengal, where we have completed desalination projects for NTPC, Adani Group, Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd, Aditya Birla Group (Indian Rayon), CPCL, Chemplast, etc. Also if water is conserved in industrial processes it can be used for domestic consumption. So the third opportunity for us too is in setting up recycling plants.

We have set up 40 recycling plants for that purpose. The fourth area where we are leveraging our capabilities is process technology.


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