The focus in the Indian water sector till date has largely been only on the infrastructure aspect and not the service delivery. The government will need to bridge the gap between infrastructure and service delivery. This cannot be done without significant changes in the current governance arrangements, Mahathi Parashuram, Head – Public Affairs, Grundfos Pumps India Pvt. Ltd, tells Renu Rajaram in an e-mail interaction.
How can the government encourage investment in the water sector in India?
With the massive urban transformation happening in India, we need to ramp up the investment to support the water sector that will need to cater to a population of 600 million people by 2031. This kind of growth will need massive capital, operations and maintenance investments in the water infrastructure.
That being said, the focus till date has largely been only on the infrastructure aspect and not the service delivery. The government will need to bridge the gap between infrastructure and service delivery. This cannot be done without significant changes in the current governance arrangements. The investments need to be accompanied by improvement in the incentives, accountability and customer orientation of the service providers.
The rapid urbanisation is also leading to the decreasing availability and quality of water. Therefore, a greater focus needs to be on the collection and treatment of wastewater and how to manage the existing water resources (both ground and surface) more efficiently. Water investments going forward should also plan to include intelligent demand management and distribution systems to reduce the leakage.
What should be the role of role of industry in tackling the water crisis?
It is imperative that we in India wake up to the fact that we need to approach the water crisis in a holistic manner, especially as we know that the demand for water will increase substantially as the country urbanises and more people move above the poverty line. As a result, governments are increasingly putting pressure on industries to adopt best international practices to improve water management.
It is vital to make the reporting of water footprint a corporate agenda in India, encouraging companies to disclose information on their water consumption and conservation as is being done for energy. We believe that water is a major driver for innovative and sustainable economic prosperity but its mismanagement can result in significant business failure. Its effective management is one of the most critical business and sustainability challenges of the 21st century.
Recently, Grundfos India partnered with CDP to launch the report titled ‘the business case for water disclosure in India’, which aims to promote water stewardship and reporting among the corporate community in the country. This report is aimed at government, business and investor communities and states the case for why corporate water disclosure is the most effective way to stimulate a rational and coherent business response to the issues of water availability. The report finds that India faces an impending water crisis as it moves on into the 21st century with the potential to stifle economic growth.
Water is a critical business issue that deserves serious attention. An increasing number of stakeholders are calling for transparent and comparable disclosure of water related information from Indian companies for consideration in decision making. Indian businesses are currently underestimating water-related risks due to a lack of effective measurement and monitoring.
How do companies see the water crisis?
Companies see the water crisis as a serious and immediate threat: Two thirds of Global 500 respondents to CDP’s water questionnaire report exposure to water-related risks, of which 64 per cent have the potential to impact business now or within the next five years. Companies are aware of increasing water-related risks but actions to manage water issues at a corporate level are inadequate. More than half of Indian companies (55 per cent) have a water policy, strategy or management plan in place. But only half of these policies include concrete quantitative goals or targets for water resource management. Most of the companies are focusing only on direct operations, while serious water related risks might lie in the supply-chain. Around 60 per cent of the companies analysing water-related risks are doing that only at facility or business unit level. Similarly, 56 per cent of all the water-related goals and targets are focused on direct operations.
What are the immediate measures to mobilise finance and skills for effective management, transmission and distribution of water?
The old and poorly maintained water transmission and distribution networks need to be modernised to check the current physical losses which range from 25 per cent to over 50 per cent. To further reach out to people, intensive educational programmes on water conservation need to be implemented across the country. While various efforts by industry, government and the public towards sustainable water management are on, close cooperation between these stakeholders will further mobilise finance and skills for effective management of water resources.
How can the groundwater crisis be mitigated?
One of the direct methods towards tackling the water scarcity problem is rain harvesting. Considering that only 18 per cent of the rainwater is used effectively while 48 per cent enters rivers, most of which reaches the ocean, rainwater harvesting is a hands-on approach.
Some of the other key initiatives that can help mitigate the groundwater crisis are water conservation and recycling and reuse of this water. There is also a critical need for smart regulations and legislations for better governance of groundwater. To ensure the success of any policy, we will need the government, communities and all sectors (agriculture and industry) to also play an active role in implementing these policies.
What are your company’s main achievements in water and energy conservation?
Aligning to its global sustainability focus, Grundfos India is committed towards helping its customers and the nation to conserve water and energy. One of the most efficient ways to conserve water is to use energy efficient pumps. We at Grundfos have committed to invent and sell ‘sustainable product solutions’. Our pump solutions help the end-user to reduce their energy consumption and lower their water consumption.
Grundfos India is working towards helping Indian industries and corporates save both energy and water not only through it’s highly energy efficient products but also through the energy and water audits it conducts. These audits are a complete system analysis of the energy and water consumption. Post the analysis the energy audit team recommends the best solutions to right size the systems; thereby helping conserve both these resources.
At Grundfos India’s headquarters (LEED EB Platinum Certified Green building) in Chennai, we have adopted a holistic approach to water conservation. We constantly monitor and reduce the consumption of water inside the facility. This is done by identifying the possible areas where the consumption of water can be reduced and by using both new and existing technologies which allows us to recycle water. This initiative has three focus areas – rain water harvesting, treatment of sewage water and efficient water usage at washrooms.
Through our global campaign called ‘Think Water Wise’ which was initiated on World Water Day (March 22, 2014) we have promoted water conservation and further reduced our water consumption within all Grundfos facilities around the world. The company also hosts a forum through the social media site, Facebook called ‘Ek Boondh Pani’ through which the members share water conservation tips and facts. Grundfos is also working with students from elementary schools to universities to spread awareness on sustainability (energy and water conservation).