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Govt needs to empower ULBs financially and functionally
Monday, July 15, 2013

Multiple government agencies i.e. state governments, local bodies, etc have responsibility for water management, which hinders effective policy development and implementation, says Goutham Reddy, Executive Director, Ramky Infrastructure in an interview with PROJECTS INFO.

The company has delivered a range of projects in various sectors such as water, wastewater, transportation, irrigation, industrial construction, parks (including SEZs), and power transmission, power distribution.

What is your view on the overall water and wastewater treatment market in India? How will this industry meet the increasing demand in future?
The water treatment market in India is witnessing immense expansion. The nation with 1.2 billion people treats only 20 per cent of its sewage. The demand for fresh water in India has continued to increase at a rapid pace primarily due to the growing population, increasing urbanisation and the constant economic growth. There are various opportunities in the Indian water and wastewater treatment market, but the industry has to also overcome several challenges. The biggest of all is the slow pace of implementation of policy reforms in India. But, with the business environment improving, one can expect several initiatives aimed at water supply and sanitation.

Do you think that there is enough support from the government with regards to this sector?
Given the enormous challenges of urbanisation and industrialisation in the Indian economy, the government will have to play a major role by empowering Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), both functionally and financially. Multiple government agencies i.e. state governments, local bodies, etc have responsibility for water management, which hinders effective policy development and implementation. But governments are not the only stakeholders that matter in this segment, nor do they constitute the only authority that needs to help in taking decisions pertaining to water management. Agricultural producers and other agricultural value chain players, financial institutions, large industrial users of water, technology providers and the construction sector are the major five private sector players that can contribute in shaping the sector. Thus, investments, institutional reforms, cost recovery, public sector accountability, private sector involvement, and emphasis on technology, efficiency and resource sustainability will be the themes that will drive the water sector agenda.

The federal and state governments have set aside Rs 1.1 trillion for sewage treatment, irrigation and recycling for the five-year period ending March 2017. How efficiently do you think will this amount be utilised for sewage treatment projects?
The global population has tripled over the past 50 years, and with an 800 per cent increase in water consumption per person in industrialised nations, the gravest crisis the world faces today is water scarcity. This move of central and state government is a ray of hope. Given these dynamics, the sheer volume of financing needs gives enough cause to indicate that innovative and sustainable financing means could positively impact the pace of change in a big way.

Water and wastewater sector is still at its infant stages. How far do you agree with this? What can be the reason for this sector not being developed as compared to other sectors?b
Untreated wastewater discharge in both surface and groundwater contributes to maximum water pollution in the country. Of about 38,000 million litres per day (MLD) of sewerage generated in urban India, treatment capacity exists for only around 12,000 MLD. This limited capacity results in close to 70 per cent of the sewerage untreated. This growing gap between the generation and treatment of waste water is an evidence to call that the sector is at its nascent stage. The reasons for this sector not being developed as compared to other sectors would be because of lack of understanding the fact that water is a scarce resource, lack of funding, less participation from private players, inherent complexities in the sector, etc.

What are the major challenges faced up water and wastewater sector?
The water supply sector is hampered by inadequate coverage, intermittent supply, low pressure, poor maintenance and poor quality. Many agencies at the local level are involved in the provision of water services, but without proper clarification of their respective roles and with overlapping jurisdiction.

In addition, lack of financial autonomy at the local level hinders service delivery by ULBs. Most local bodies are in a poor financial state, with low collection ratios and poor cost recoveries.

Lack of data systems: A basic challenge for the sector is that almost no water and sanitation service utility has a reliable data system. Prolonged inefficiency and a freeze in a manpower addition have led to a situation where cities lack the required skills to deliver quality services.

Could you brief us on the latest technologies launched by the company into this segment?
Treatment technologies of wastewater vary according to the treated water quality required for disposal, for reuse or for recycle. Currently industries are going for innovative technologies like Sequential Batch Reactor Technology SBR), Moving Bed Biological Reactor Technology (MBBR), Membrane Bioreactor (MBR), etc for secondary treatment followed by tertiary treatment with membrane technologies to get good quality water which can be recycled in industrial processes.

Who are your major competitors?
Larsen & Toubro (L&T), IVRCL, NCC Ltd, Prathiba Industries, Petron Civil Engineering, JMC Projects, Megha Engineering & Infra Ltd, Doshion Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, VA Tech Wabag, Geo miller, Gharpure engineering & constructions Pvt. Ltd, Enviro control associates are few of our major competitors.

Can you describe us on your upcoming projects along with its capacity, cost and location, its completion date?
Few major upcoming projects in the water and waste water sector include: a) 200 MLD drinking Water Plant at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh under JNNURM Programme (Phase-II) at a total project cost of Rs.319.19 Cr and it's probable completion is September'2013 b) Construction of 130 MLD Water Supply Scheme at left Bank of River Chambal near Sakatpura at Kota and other related associated / allied appurtenant works at Kota on design, build & operate basis at a total project cost of Rs.150.42 Cr it's probable completion is September'2013 c) Construction of Cluster distribution network, IEC activities, pump houses, clear water reservoirs, over head service reserviors,33KV switchyards & village distribution network under Package - II of Nagaur Lift project at a total project cost of Rs. 148.10 Cr it's probable completion is June'2014 d) Construction of 108 MLD capacity STP at Chavulamadhum, laying of pumping mains & construction of Pumping stations ,including all related E&M works, Visakhapatnam at a total project cost of Rs 131.24 Cr it's probable completion is March'2014

Could you brief us on some of your recently installed water treatment plants in India?
One of our recently installed water treatment plants is 20 MGD Water Treatment Plant for New Town Kolkata Project, Rajarhat P.S. at a total project cost of Rs.26 Cr.

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Multiple Government Agencies, Goutham Reddy, Ramky Infrastructure, Wastewater, Transportation, Irrigation, Industrial Construction, Parks, Wastewater Treatment, Urban Local Bodies, Sewage Treatment Projects, Moving Bed Biological Reactor Technology Larsen & Toubro
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