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Turbaashu Bhattacharya, Business Head, Roserve Enviro Pvt. Ltd.

India: Water comprises about 75% of our planet. It is obvious for us to think that it will always be available to us in plenty. However, freshwater constitutes only 3% of this total available water. While two-thirds of this 3% is tucked away in glaciers and icecaps, only the remaining one-third is freely available and fit for human use (drinking, irrigation, power generation, etc).

India – the world’s most ancient civilization, with a humongous population of around 1.35 billion subsumes more than 330 million people facing a severe water crisis. Since independence, cities, and towns have subsequently grown without planning. Average per capita water availability, which is already low enough for India to be categorized as water-stressed, is expected to reduce further to 1341 m3 by 2025 and 1140m3 by 2050, close to the official water scarcity threshold of 1000 m3. This scarcity of freshwater is mainly due to the following reasons:

  • Inefficient use of water for irrigation
  • Exploitation of groundwater
  • Sewage and wastewater drainage in water bodies leading to water pollution
  • Lack of efficient water management and distribution
  • Lack of infrastructure for water storage during monsoon

A major amount of this scarcity could be replenished by treating used water to a reusable quality and thereby reducing our dependency on freshwater. The process of treatment of wastewater in order to make it fit for reuse is termed wastewater treatment. The two main sources of water contamination are sewage and industrial effluent. If the wastewater is of domestic origin, the wastewater is termed as sewage and the treatment associated with it is taken care of by a sewage treatment plant.

Water shortages in the country can hamper industrial operations and other economic activity, and lead to muted economic growth. Industrial activity accounts for 30% of GDP contribution at the national level and holds significant importance in India’s economy. Estimates suggest that industrial water requirements will quadruple between 2005 and 2030, highlighting the significant rise in demand by the sector over time. Additionally, a recent study reports that industries will need to draw three times the water compared to their actual consumption by 2030 due to water efficiency challenges.

Water shortages are already impacting and will continue to impact, the sector in the form of erratic and insufficient water supply, hampering production processes and efficiency. It is possible that this shortage will drive up the cost of water and lead to a disproportionate impact on the Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME) segment. This can severely impact industrial production processes and cripple India’s aspirations to be an economic superpower in the future. The worst affected industries are likely to include water-intensive sectors such as food & beverages, textiles, and paper and paper products. Amongst these, the textiles industry alone contributes 4% towards India’s GDP, 14% to national industrial production, and accounts for 17% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

We expect the Union Budget 2022-23 to introduce the following programs to encourage cleaner and greener technologies and solutions in the water sector viz:

  1. To reduce substantial expenditure on the long-distance conveyance of sewage as well as treated water for recycling, decentralized treatment of wastewater is advisable. As a good practice, decentralized sewage treatment plants (STP) should be encouraged rather than a few of very large capacity and they should accordingly be incentivized.
  2. All new industrial developments must mandatorily build in water recycling and zero liquid discharge systems. Subsidies and assistance to be provided to MSME & SME units for the adoption of cleaner & greener technologies and solutions.
  3. The wastewater treatment to be adopted by villages, towns, and cities depends on capital cost, technical feasibility, operation and maintenance cost, and acceptance level of the community as well as the mindset of the governing bodies. The Budget should emphasize on ULB’s to endeavor to lay down Treated Wastewater lines for the community based on their need.
  4. To promote the concept of Circular Economy (CE) the GOI needs to provide comprehensive procedures/guidelines for the use of recycled water and recovered resources. The level of treatment required, its use after treatment, expenditure, responsibilities of regulating authorities, etc., needs to be clearly defined to actively promote the use of recycled water.
  5. Like the Jal Jeevan Mission for piped drinking water, GOI in its current budget may plan to initiate an industrial water policy which makes it mandatory for industries to take their supply requirements from recycled/treated water. Municipal corporations need to make available treated water to industries at reduced rates so that it could become economically feasible for industries to take this water. But strict quality control needs to be maintained for this treated water to ensure water quality parameters as per norms.

Turbaashu heads the Sales & Business Development vertical for Roserve Enviro Pvt Ltd – the Indo-Danish joint-venture startup offering innovative financial solutions in the field of wastewater recycling and treatment including Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) to meet sustainability norms for industries and corporates.

He is an experienced professional in the retail asset financing, SME lending, and equipment leasing segment. He has more than a decade and a half of expertise in handling secured lending portfolios for Asset-backed financing and receivable management of debtors. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management(PGDBM) from the Institute of Management Technology with a Masters Degree in Commerce from Annamalai University.

Turbaashu is an accomplished sustainability expert believing in the concept of “giving back” to society and making the earth a cleaner and greener place for future generation.

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