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Skandaprasad Seetharaman, Group CFO, VA Tech WABAG Ltd

India: The water treatment industry in India has been a sunrise sector waiting for the big boom and we expect that a special focus on the sector will improve both the economy at this time with higher infra spend and also enhance attention on the environment and conservation of water. There has never been a better time than now, with the whole world’s focus on sanitation needs.

Sewage is often seen as a liability than a resource. The tertiary treatment model has made sewage a resource, with municipal bodies treating and supplying sewage water to industries, thereby having a direct effect on groundwater conservation. While this model is being adopted progressively, considering that a significant amount of sewage in the country is still untreated, a national initiative will help provide special attention, in the lines of Namami Gange, enabling India to be the recycle and reuse leader of the world. Water is a resource too precious to be used only once.

With the cost competitiveness and technological superiority, India can be a net exporter of environmental goods and services. However, with the new export policy direction, export incentives have been lowered for export-focused organizations. We would urge the government to relook at this aspect to keep up the business competitiveness of Indian exporters. It is also essential that the Government of India considers specific corporate tax and GST benefits focused on environmental goods and services exporters (including deemed export projects). Also, water infrastructure developer focused exemptions on direct tax needs to be brought in for large-scale water infra development especially, with long-term, performance-based models of Public-Private Partnership, Hybrid Annuity, Design-Build-Operate contracts becoming the norm of the day.

Credit support is pivotal in ensuring the success of projects. A water-infra-focused fund of the Government with a view to invest and lend in the water sector will be a welcome initiative. Specific policy direction to bring water treatment under priority sector lending with a view to improving availability of funding and reduction of cost of funds through subvention is essential.

In all, we look forward to seeing initiatives in this budget, for the Indian water treatment industry to be propelled to the next level.

VA Tech WABAG, as an internationally respected expert group, acts as a systems specialist and full-service provider with a focus on the planning, installation, and operation of drinking and wastewater plants for local government and industry in the growth markets of Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, the Central and Eastern Europe states. The WABAG Group represents a leading multinational player with a workforce of over 1,600 and has companies and offices in more than 20 countries. Since 1995, WABAG has completed over 1400 water and wastewater plants worldwide.

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