The Indian water sector offers a complex mix of opportunities and challenges for Dutch companies.
‘Water’ falls under the jurisdiction of government institutions at national, state and local level. The demand for water in India is largely caused by three sectors: agriculture (80% of total consumption), the industrial sector (15%) and the domestic sector (4-6%). Water is one of the most important components of India’s current 12th five-year plan (2012 – 2017).
Government policy mainly aims at the conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring the more equitable distribution across and within states through the development and management of integrated water resources. ‘Water’ is divided into two subsectors: ‘Integrated Water Management’ and ‘Maritime’. The latter partly overlapping with the logistics sector.
Integrated water management
Water is a scarce natural resource. India has more than 17% of world population but has only 4% of world’s renewable water resources. The gap between water supply and demand has been increasing on account of the high economic growth of the last decade, population increase, poor governance and implementation of wrong water policies. Both the central and state governments want to be proactive, but have largely been unable to put forward constructive roadmaps. However, these negatives also present a number of opportunities for international cooperation:
- Drinking water is of utmost importance and the issue therefore needs to be addressed in the best possible way. Though many initiatives have been undertaken, governments have not been able to ensure safe drinking water supply.
- There is the need to improve water management practices, rainwater harvesting, advanced water purification technologies, smart water delivery systems and waste water management.
- Need to protect existing groundwater recharge systems, create more groundwater recharge systems and reduce the waste of groundwater by adopting appropriate cropping methods.
- Planning and management of water resources such as dams, flood embankments, tidal embankments etc., which should also incorporate strategies for possible climate changes.
- Projects to implement improved water supply with proper sewerage facilities.
- Develop mechanisms to monitor water usage patterns (e.g. to check salinity, alkalinity or other quality problems etc.) and to plan appropriate and regular interventions
- Measures to reduce pollution/contamination of water by arsenic, fluoride, chloride and other chemicals.
- Develop models to improve and maintain water resources infrastructure, including dam safety services and safety measures (like downstream flood management etc.)
- Expansion of developing floods/drought forecasting models, disaster management plans and systems to cope up with floods/drought.
- The desalination industry has been growing and offers substantial opportunities, as industries such as power, refineries and chemicals are adopting efficient and sustainable technologies for the supply of fresh water.
- There is a focus on low-cost methods to treat waste water. There already exist ttechnologies, based on biotic processes, which can substantially reduce the level of pollution in water bodies based on different strains of microbes. Given the growing need for water-purification, there is also the need to develop cost-effective and low-cost ways of using these technologies.
- Wastewater treatment can generate revenues and thereby not only reduce the operating and maintenance costs but also recover capital costs (when recycled to industries). It has the potential to attract private sector investments to properly structured projects.
- Cooperation can be in various forms, such as research on international best practices on water management, technological assistance to companies in various sectors, governance issues, waste-water management, desalination and so on.
India is the 20th largest maritime country in the world. Its strategic location and long coastline, bordering important global shipping routes, make India an important maritime nation. The Indian maritime sector is comprised of ports, shipping, shipbuilding and –repair as well as inland water-transport systems. More information on port development, cargo handling in ports and shipping can be found on our logistics page.
The Indian government aims to increase India’s global market share in shipbuilding to 5%. Low costs of labor, availability of a skilled workforce, a robust domestic demand and a growing steel industry make a strong case for the shipbuilding sector in India. There is a lot of potential for Dutch companies and institutions in the field of research and development. The same applies for ship repairs. Direct export of Dutch ships is limited to the niche market of dredging, where the Dutch are world leader. India is looking for cooperation in the areas of river information systems, vessel design, VTS, Radar (radars can detect oil spills, water depth, water streams etc.) navigational aids and safety audits.
Inland waterways are heavily underused, though they have potential to relieve over-congested road and rail-transport for bulk goods (coal/ore). A Dutch consortium (out of G2G-funds) has, in the past, already carried out works in the Ganges.