A Journey through India’s Water Treatment Landscape

  • Published | 22 January 2024

Different technologies and approaches ranging from traditional methods to modern techniques that include reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection constitute the water treatment industry in India. In the Indian environmental technology industry, water treatment is a sub-sector that has great potential. As a result, the need for advanced water treatment technologies in India is increasing. Multiple government programs including the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Jal Jeevan mission as well as Community Drinking Water Schemes are contributing to growth of Indian water and wastewater treatment market. These big government initiatives not only solved the water crisis effectively but also opened new avenues and pathways for the emerging Indian Water Treatment Industry. These programs not only lead to the cleanliness of Ganga but also is important for the water treatment industry in India as it gives scope for growth and development coinciding with current efforts towards management of water resources.

Water Treatment Industry in IndiaTechnological Advancement

Technological Interventions for Sewage Wastewater TreatmentIndia has been actively researching and embracing modern technological interventions in the water treatment industry, specifically sewage wastewater treatment. For example, the city of Hyderabad in Telangana has recently modernized one old sewage treatment plant using SBR technology which is a revolution. This is a reflection of the nationwide trend towards more economical and environmentally sound sewage treatment practices, dealing with environmental issues in India’s water industry. Moreover, innovations in sewage wastewater treatment technology introduced by the states such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana indicate a trend towards more efficient and sustainable practices.

Water treatment is the process of enhancing water quality so that it can be used for a variety of reasons, including drinking, industrial water supply, irrigation, and recreation. This technique involves removing or reducing the concentration of pollutants and undesired components from water to make it safe and clean.  The water treatment landscape in India is a complex and dynamic sector that plays a crucial role in addressing the country's water challenges. India faces issues such as water scarcity, pollution, and inadequate access to clean water.

The water treatment industry in India encompasses various technologies and approaches, including traditional methods and advanced technologies such as reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection.

Within India's environmental technology sector, the water treatment industry stands out as a promising sub-sector. Projections from the International Trade Administration in 2022 suggest that India's demand for water is anticipated to outpace the available supply by twice as much by the year 2030, as the current Indian populace has reached 1.42 billion, which will be growing by a larger value by then.

   In response to this pressing challenge, both public and private sector entities are actively pursuing ambitious plans to establish robust water and wastewater treatment as well as distribution infrastructure. For instance, in November 2022, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) secured a $25 million debt facility with VA Tech Wabag Limited (Wabag) to promote sanitation and water security in India by developing new sewage treatment plants. The funds will be used to meet long-term capital requirements for engineering, procurement, and construction, as well as the operation and maintenance of sewage treatment facilities. Consequently, there is a rising demand for sophisticated water treatment technologies in India.

Impact of Urbanization on Water Treatment Challenges

According to a Niti Aayog assessment, just 28% of India's daily urban wastewater (72,368 million liters) gets treated. That means 72% of wastewater is untreated and may be disposed of in rivers, lakes, or groundwater, causing pollution, disease transmission, and harm to wildlife. The 2021 National Inventory of Sewage Treatment Plants underscores a significant disparity between the escalating trend of wastewater generation and the capacity to treat wastewater.

In the given statistics of NITI Ayog 2023, we can see the direct proportionality between demographics and sewage generation, making heavily populated Indian cities a larger source of Sewage water generation when compared to present water treatment capacity. As a result in India, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) have established regulatory frameworks for the solution of water treatment.

Government Initiatives and Ambitious Projects Driving the Water Treatment Industry

The Indian government recognizes the severity of the water crisis and has launched several initiatives to address it. Various governmental initiatives, such as the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Jal Jeevan Mission, and Community Drinking Water Schemes, contribute to the growth of the Indian water and wastewater treatment market.

According to PIB 2024 data, the Ministry of Jal Shakti, under the Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, has been tirelessly working to realize Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's vision of making India a 'Water Secure Country.' Established in 2019, the Ministry consolidated various water-related departments and organizations, becoming a pivotal force in implementing a targeted strategy for achieving water security in the nation. Its focus is on the optimal utilization of scarce water resources. In the year 2023, the department initiated numerous new projects, attaining notable milestones and outcomes in its ongoing efforts. These ambitious government projects not only effectively addressed the water crisis but also created new opportunities and avenues for the burgeoning water treatment industry in India. The sector has witnessed substantial growth and development, playing a vital role in advancing the nation's overall water management objectives.

Similarly, in the year 2023, the National Mission for Clean Ganga achieved significant milestones by completing 38 projects, bringing the cumulative total to 270 completed projects. Additionally, the mission sanctioned 45 new projects with a total value of ₹5,473 crore, contributing to a cumulative total of 454 projects sanctioned, amounting to ₹38,385 crore. Specifically in sewerage infrastructure, 21 projects were sanctioned between January and December 2023, focusing on the creation and rehabilitation of 938 MLD sewage treatment capacity. During the same period, 10 projects, accounting for 821 MLD sewage treatment capacity, were completed. To date, the Ganga Basin has seen the sanctioning of 197 sewerage infrastructure projects, targeting the creation of 6,208 MLD sewage treatment capacity and the laying of a 5,272 km sewer network. These initiatives not only contribute to the cleanliness of the Ganga but also hold significance for the water treatment industry in India, opening up opportunities for growth and development in tandem with the ongoing efforts for water resource management.

Technological Interventions for Water Treatment

  India has been actively exploring and embracing advanced technological solutions for the water treatment industry, particularly in sewage wastewater treatment. Notably, states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Maharashtra, Goa, Haryana, West Bengal, and Uttarakhand have made significant strides in adopting newer technologies with treatment efficiencies ranging from 80 to 90 percent, as per Down to Earth's 2023 data. The implementation of technologies such as Sequencing Batch Reactors (SBRs) and Moving Bed Biofilm Reactors (MBBRs) has become prevalent, offering higher treatment and nutrient removal capacities, improved shock load handling, enhanced resource efficiency, and the generation of high-quality effluent suitable for reuse. For instance, Hyderabad, Telangana, recently upgraded an existing sewage treatment plant with SBR technology, marking a groundbreaking development. This trend is indicative of a nationwide shift towards more efficient and sustainable sewage treatment practices, addressing environmental concerns and promoting water reuse in India's water treatment industry.


The water treatment situation in India is crucial due to challenges like not having enough clean water and dealing with pollution. The country is using both traditional and modern technologies to improve water quality. The government is actively involved in initiatives like the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation and the National Mission for Clean Ganga to tackle water issues. The Ministry of Jal Shakti, formed in 2019, is working hard to ensure water security and optimal use of limited water resources. Additionally, advancements in sewage wastewater treatment technologies, adopted by states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, show a shift towards more efficient and sustainable practices. This progress not only addresses immediate water concerns but also creates opportunities for growth and development in line with the country's broader water management goals.

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