Bratin Roy, AVP and Head – Energy and Environment Services, TUV SUD South Asia, and Stephan Hild, Head of Business Development – Water Services, TÜV SÜD AG
TÜV SÜD South Asia is a leading certification, testing, auditing, inspection and training enterprise with a strong presence in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The company serves across a wide range of sectors like automotive, plant engineering, environmental technology, food safety, textile, infrastructure consultancy, and technical and non-technical skill development training. Bratin Roy and Stephan Hild, in an email interaction with Lalitha Rao, discuss the Indian water sector and TÜV SÜD’s formidable presence in the segment.
To begin with, what is your outlook on the Indian water sector?
Bratin Roy: Through our Indian business experience in these 18 years, since 1994, we feel that water sector has to be more policy oriented. In the last two decades one can see the level of water availability reducing to 70 per cent; resulting in water scarcity. Even there is an increase in demand for water in the industrial sector. With the industrialisation and GDP focus and growth target, it may be expected that the demand for industrial water would rise to another 50 per cent or 60 per cent in the next 20 years.
So water sector probably needs more focused approach on distribution of water between agriculture, industry and other uses, a central level coordination and then for industrial sectors, especially in the industrial sector. Then an effective policy as well as intention from industry to water recycling, water use, besides water treatment is essential. Right now what is happening, in most of the industry we focus on treatment. There is a need in shift from this to reuse of water, reduced water demand etc. Now, we are in talks with the government for a national bureau of water efficiency like we have energy efficiency in energy sector.
How can such policies help in the industrial segment?
Bratin Roy: Like the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in the energy sector, the Ministry of Water Resources should launch a national level grid. Most of the companies are also going for corporate sustainability with water as one of the indicators of sustainability. At TÜV SÜD, we have done a lot of water audit or water efficiency audit for cement companies. We have seen that though the companies have demand to increase their manufacturing facilities, due to water scarcity they are unable to meet those demands. So, the companies as part of their business responsibility have realised the need for water consumption to its minimal and recycling process for their basic needs, increase in production, increase of profitability etc. This is the trend slowly rising in the Indian industrial segment.
What is TÜV SÜD’s role in India?
Stephen Hild: I think in two ways, because industry is an important player, and domestic supply. This is a utility, so public sector is a major player and can be a major game changer and towards both directions we can supply consultancy services and auditing services. With regard to water efficiency, as what Bratin mentioned, we can help industry come closer to the target of zero liquid discharge; and also on the CSR site, we can help with water footprint; we can consult with water efficiency management system. By the way, there is no globally applicable ISO standard on water efficiency management systems yet, but it will be soon. Currently, it is only a Singapore standard and it is water efficiency management systems standard.
TÜV SÜD is the first accredited certification body in India, but the principles underlying are globally valid—Germany, India and Singapore—it is subject to the same logic. We help industry build a sustainable water efficiency management system, leadership and business, water-related risks etc.
Bratin Roy: Being a German company we are known for the correct form of clean processes like chemical processes, sewage processes etc. So we feel what is needed for Indian water sector is that a reputed impartial, in fact, independent and impartial, assessor can actually validate the suitable process for a particular industry.
Tell us about your expansion plans?
Bratin Roy: We set up our environment division three-and-a-half years ago. We definitely have invested a lot on people, water technologists, water consultants, air consultants, environmental consultants in our team. So definitely, we spend a lot of money sending manpower to Germany for training. We also do have a very sophisticated lab in Delhi. We have plans to open for more capital investment on this sector and probably we will announce it sometime this year.
Which sector, industrial, government or residential, would TÜV SÜD focus more on?
Bratin Roy: What we feel is that from a project point of view, of course, industrial sector would be more, but on volume, maybe the municipalities will be bigger; like if I have a big municipality water supply project, I will need more people and resources.
What do you generally think of municipal projects in India?
Bratin Roy: I think they all understand that they require an independent project management company or project management consultants or field quality companies independently to review the project status, because it is impossible for them to monitor everything. Also, we wanted to mention that other than this field i.e. quality projects in municipalities, we also work with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, in municipal and urban demand side management programmes. It is a flagship programme by BEE related to energy and we were the returning consultant for last four years during which we managed the entire programme, like monitoring and reviewing the DPR, and providing training to the municipalities; we were working with some 160 municipalities.
Do you think it is time that India must have a ministry that directly monitors the water sector?
Bratin Roy: That is what I was saying in the beginning. My view is that we have probably too many ministries and too many departments like River Board, Surface Water Board etc. In Karnataka, there is a department like Lake Board. Then there are pollution control boards, public health, irrigating water. We definitely feel that it would be good to have a central level body that will implement programmes.
Can you briefly tell us about the water sector in Germany?
Stephen Hild: In Germany, we have 150 years record of water supply and water and wastewater treatment and we have both forms, the technological side and the institutional side. We have a very well-established system on the federal level and on community level. We have a ministry and authorities that monitor the industrial players as well as the utilities; the wastewater treatment plants, for example. There is no untreated wastewater in Germany at all. This was not always the case, of course; we had a period of very high industrialisation, in the 50s, 60s & 70s, when our rivers were highly polluted. And then we got into environmental policy with tough regulations that are monitored and enforced. Today, you can drink water from any of the lakes, including Rhine, without falling ill.
Do you think desalination is viable?
Stephen Hild: I think so. Lifecycle is also an issue, because in certain senses, for example, in Tamil Nadu, where water is scarce and you can be as efficient as you want, you will always have a lack of water and so one of the measures to increase supply, I think, is to use desalinated water.
But we have this cost issue…
Stephen Hild: Absolutely, and not only the capex cost, but also opex cost, because for RO you need high amounts of energy. But we perceive a global trend, though I have not seen it in India yet. On a global scale, there is a trend towards desalination based on renewable energy. But water will always have some high cost attached to it, but it can be a part of the solution, like water efficiency which we talked about earlier. You have to come down from specific consumption and water loss-leakage is a no-go. On the supply side, RO is one of the aspects which can ease the tension between supply and demand definitely.