B.S.A. Narayan is one of the founder members and current National Vice President of the Indian Plumbing Association (IPA), Director at the World Plumbing Council (WPC), and Managing Director of Maple Engg-Design Services (India) Pvt. Ltd. In his 43 years long career so far, he has designed many plumbing, fire protection and industrial piping systems including water and sewage treatment plants, central LPG systems for hotels, hospitals, factory complexes, software buildings &parks, and commercial buildings in coordination with reputed Indian and multinational architects and developers. In a conversation with Mayur Sharma, he discusses his journey, the activities, and programs of IPA, and emerging concepts of ‘Green Plumbing’.
Q. Please share your story with us. How has been your journey in the plumbing, piping, and water sector so far?
Mr. Narayan: A small boy in a big family of 12 children, I was born in a village near Bangalore. I had my primary education at a school near my village located at a walkable distance from home. I continued my primary and high school in a nearby town while I resided with my elder sister’s family. Then we shifted to Bangalore and Mysore for my higher education. My basic qualification is a Bachelor’s degree in Science followed by a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from a prestigious college – The National Institute of Engineering, Mysore with Public Health Engineering as elective.
Immediately after my graduation in 1975, I joined a private consulting engineering company which was very famous and they had offices in Bangalore, New Delhi, and Chennai. I started as a trainee design engineer in structural design and after two months I changed my subject and opted for plumbing design. In those days, plumbing engineering was unheard of and people used to laugh at me. Immediately after six months, I was transferred to New Delhi. I worked in New Delhi for eight years with eminent plumbing personalities and then moved out of India for almost eight years. There was no looking back from there.
After coming back from abroad, along with two partners who are specialized in their own field, I started a company which specialized in structural and MEP design. The company has grown from five persons to 500 engineers. We ran this company for twenty-two years and after we parted, I started Maple Engineering Consultancy specialized in MEP design and Maple is also nine years old now.
During the course, I got many awards and recognition and became a fellow of the Royal Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers. Apart from this, the Indian Plumbing Association (IPA) also awarded me with the Lifetime Achievement Award in the year 2007, for excellence in the plumbing profession.
My journey into the plumbing industry started in the year 1975. I have come across lots of challenges in this industry. Basically, when we started, we never had a proper education in plumbing nor good standards to follow. I had to struggle hard to collect the design handbooks, codes, and standards from the UK and USA.
There were no guides or teachers, and we had to practically design everything and get the drawings done. Over the years, with trial and error method, I learned the basics of plumbing after a good exposure in abroad with international codes and standards. It gave me in-depth exposure to different practices followed in different countries.
Q. Tell us about your roles – as the National Vice President of IPA as well as the Director of WPC (World Plumbing Council).
Mr. Narayan: As the National Vice President of IPA, we have defined responsibilities and I take care of the technical arm of the IPA. I am also heading the Technical Committee (we call it as TC) as a convener and we develop codes and standards in the plumbing industry in collaboration with IAPMO (one of the oldest organization in the USA, who are pioneers in code development).
Till now, we have developed six codes and standards which are dynamic documents and will be revised every four years. IPA has written a handbook on plumbing for common people and the same is translated into several local languages in India. This book provides basic knowledge about the plumbing to be practiced in our day-to-day life.
Two years back, I was nominated by IPA to the Executive Board of World Plumbing Council. Right now, I am in-charge of Community and Economic Development. The World Plumbing Council wants the best possible plumbing for the world, through the growth and development of the world’s plumbing industry.
Our objective is to create a global network of plumbing industries and to achieve better design and governance in the field of plumbing. WPC is continuously working to improve the image of the plumbing industry by providing advanced education and training. It also emphasizes on plumbing research and innovation (both in technology and policy). A recent major initiative by WPC is termed as “Four Pillars of Plumbing” – namely Participation, Practice, Products, and Protection. I was in-charge from WPC, during the 25th Year Golden Jubilee Celebration of IPA, and WPC was invited to conduct their meeting in India.
Q. Please tell us about the highlights and achievements of Indian Plumbing Association (IPA) in the past few years.
Mr. Narayan: IPA has about 19 chapters all over India with about 4000 members. IPA has developed many plumbing codes which help engineers do plumbing installations as per international practices. Some of these codes are: India’s first Uniform Plumbing Code – UIPC-I (which is followed by many plumbing engineers for plumbing installation that safeguard public health. This code is also referred to by National Building Code 2017); then there is Swimming Pool Code, and also Water-Efficient Products India Code – WEP-I (it rates plumbing fixtures with star ratings to indicate efficiency of the product with respect to water consumption. CII’s Indian Green Building Council has agreed to adopt WEP-I in all ‘green’ buildings being certified by them), while Uniform Solar Energy Code India (USEC-I) is a comprehensive and revolutionary document intended to both standardize the safe and sustainable residential and commercial solar energy and water heating systems.
IPA has also started a world-class ‘Plumbing Lab’ at Pune. The lab demonstrates examples of correct and incorrect plumbing. At this lab, one can see various piping systems and watch the actual flow of water in pipes, etc.
IPA regularly holds exhibitions on plumbing products and services. This helps engineers become aware of the latest plumbing technology. Our last exhibition was held at Nehru Centre, Mumbai on October 26-28, 2018.
IPA regularly holds national-level plumbing conferences. In its latest edition – 25th Indian Plumbing Conference, Hardip Singh Puri (Union Minister of State, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs) was the Chief Guest. The conference was also attended by Chairman, World Plumbing Council (WPC), and Directors of WPC.
Technical seminars are also held in every few months by individual chapters all over India which our members can attend free-of-cost and learn about new plumbing products and systems.
IPA published India’s only monthly magazine on plumbing – ‘Indian Plumbing Today’ which is circulated free-of-cost to all IPA members.
In 2018, over 800 engineers and plumbing professionals all over India were exposed to the Plumbing Code developed by IPA and also to best practices in plumbing. The program is called IPPL – Indian Plumbing Professionals League. This will directly translate in good and standardized plumbing installations and better help all over India.
IPA has published a book – Guide to Good Plumbing Practices- for the laymen as a guide for correct plumbing installations. With lots of illustrations, it is available in English, Marathi, Malayalam, Hindi, Gujarati, and Bengali. This is the first attempt in India to help the layman understand what correct plumbing is all about. Do’s and Don’ts are also given in this book.
IPA celebrates World Plumbing Day (March 11) every year by encouraging students to be aware of the importance of water conservation. This is done through drawing competitions.
IPA is an association where its members work voluntarily to improve the plumbing standards in India with a view to reduce health-hazards caused by bad plumbing.
Q. How do you see the growth of Indian plumbing and water sector in the near future?
Mr. Narayan: The Indian economy is poised to grow at about 7-8% per year. In tandem with this growth, the construction sector (which also includes plumbing) is expected to grow at more than 8% per year. As such, we are very positive about the growth of the plumbing industry. The role of IPA would be to ensure that plumbing installations for every kind of project are done as per the Uniform Plumbing Code developed by IPA and The National Building Code-2016.
Q. What is the concept of IPPL? How successful is it?
Mr. Narayan: As I mentioned earlier, IPA has developed this unique initiative called IPPL (Indian Plumbing Professionals League) which is a combination of learning and fun. IPPL 2018, virtually the flagship program of IPA, has exceeded all expectations. For IPA to fulfill one of its core commitments: “to enable plumbing engineers to be aware of what ‘good’ plumbing is about”, in such a spectacular fashion was unthinkable till last year.
We had an astonishing 13 chapters simultaneously running IPPL programs on Saturday, 1st September 2018. In the words of our National President Gurmit Singh, who wrote on WhatsApp, sums up the collective excitement (generated by IPPL) of the IPA community: “Aaj IPPL Kee Barish Ho Rahi Hai. 13 cities together. What progress! All this will percolate to the betterment of plumbing practices and for recognition of our industry.”
It should be noted that almost all the participants were engineers from leading developers, contractors, and consultants from around the country. The awareness about good plumbing practices will surely percolate down in these organizations leading to better plumbing and reduced health problems arising from bad plumbing. Also to be noted is the point that each of these participants has received a copy of UIPC-I 2017 – Uniform Illustrated Plumbing Code, India. The availability of a detailed reference book like UIPC-I in such large numbers across the country would now help to serve as a benchmark for plumbing installations.
The IPPL community comprises of participants, sponsors, trainers and IPA executives. A total of 822 participants were exposed to good plumbing practices over a period of a few weeks. Over 340 companies sponsored the IPPL event.
The concept of IPPL is to introduce principles of plumbing to engineers who design and supervise plumbing installations. The fact that over 800 participants took part in IPPL 2018 in itself vouches for the success of IPPL. All these participants will now ensure that all plumbing installations done under their supervision would be done as per international standards. This ensures that health hazards to occupants are minimized.
Q. What is the biggest challenge which Indian Plumbing Association faces?
Mr. Narayan: The biggest challenge that IPA faces is how to encourage plumbing engineers to become IPA members and introduce code-based plumbing installations. We hope to reach out to other organizations and convince them about its significance to health that is a result of correct plumbing design and installations. We hope to convince them to become IPA members in due course.
Q. In 2017, IAPMO, IGBC, and IPA had signed an MoU to implement WEP-I 2017 Standard for the Indian Plumbing Products. Your views on it?
Mr. Narayan: Every idea takes time to germinate and show results. We hope that the idea called WEP-I will soon become a standard for most of the reputed builders. The agreement between IAPMO, IGBC, and IPA is surely a step in the right direction and it would help water conservation in our country in the long-term.
Q. Do you think such standards are significant to improve the levels of water safety, quality, and sanitation in India?
Mr. Narayan: For good plumbing, the basis is the good codes and standards which precisely indicates the best practice. A good plumbing installation avoids the contamination of water supplied through the pipe network. Using the proper fixtures and appliances at the right place of installation avoids cross-contamination, thereby, taking care of safety factors.
Proper water treatment to maintain the quality of water as per the norms helps in avoiding a lot of water-borne diseases, and the new codes and standards specify these aspects very well.
Proper design and execution of the sanitation system with water-seal in the traps will avoid the bacteria entering in the habitable areas. The deadly SARS epidemic in Hong Kong was in fact due to faulty plumbing in a residential colony called Amoy Gardens in Kowloon.
Q. What is the future of ‘Green Plumbing’ and ‘Water Efficiency’ in India in your opinion?
Mr. Narayan: The green plumbing is going to be the “in-thing” in India as well as in the whole world. Green plumbing is basically using the water effectively and recycling the used water effectively. The plumbing designers need to practice usage of the treated water effectively without discharging a single liter of water outside.
Also, the designers need to practice the collection and reuse of rainwater in the project. This can be achieved by reusing the excess water for recharges to ground.
Water-efficiency standards are already existing in India and the government has to make these standards mandatory. If these standards are enforced, in a matter of 5-10 years, we can see the revolution in plumbing and we can definitely witness a ‘Green India’.
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