Water – the colourless, odourless liquid is one of the primary requirements for life and is a finite resource. Providing potable water and even water for basic sanitation is one of the greatest challenges globally. Over the years, there have been several studies, reports and research papers submitted on water optimisation, and wastewater treatment and its management. A lot of awareness has been created about the environment, the repercussions of pollution and the need for better norms. These along with industrial growth have been major growth drivers for the water and wastewater treatment sector.
Despite this, it is an industry in its nascent stages with very few on-the-ground projects that have been implemented, points out Harshad Bastikar, founder director and chief-executive officer, Jaldhara Technologies (Jaldhara), Mumbai. The projects that have been implemented are mainly centralised or on a large-scale at city or township levels. Also, the problem of uncontrolled disposal of untreated wastewater and/or sewage from urban areas, institutions and industry is partly overlooked. “This is causing deterioration of water bodies and sanitation in many urban and semi-urban areas,” he points out. While many cities seem to have systems for collection and treatment of wastewater, the major factor of growing urbanisation is not adequately considered and effective investments are not in line with such prospective growth, he adds. A detriment to urban hygiene and environment, it has left many a Municipal Corporation unable to deal with this issue.
Jaldhara aims to fill this need using technology to meet the growing demand at the point-of-discharge and bring in decentralised water/wastewater treatment solutions in packaged and productised form. The packaged plants are completely ‘plug and play’ – ready to use for implementation, occupy low footprint space and meet with strict norms for discharge. All products at Jaldhara are aligned to the philosophy of ‘conserve, recycle and reuse’ through a ‘no waste’ application.
Jaldhara, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Greywater Technologies, Mauritius, operates under the brand name Greywater with the Grewa range of products in India. The company offers modular, flexible and scalable packaged products that can be installed and commissioned quickly with lowest lifecycle cost, and is fully automatic. Indigenously developed, the entire Grewa range of products is based on a single-reactor-multiple-treatment concept, using no chlorine or hazardous chemicals. The treated water gives no odour and if required, it can be remotely monitored.
According to Bastikar, the company’s strength lies in understanding the point-of-discharge treatment application and its requirements, and providing solutions that are cost-effective and environment friendly. It is targeted at residential buildings, hotels, hospitals (non-medical waste), shopping malls, commercial complexes, information technology parks, special economic zones, decentralised small-scale municipal applications and industries alike.
Jaldhara was recently funded by Mumbai-based venture capital firm, Nexus Venture Partners (Nexus) to the tune of Rs 9 crore. The funds are being used for product and technology application development, stepping-up operation infrastructure and ‘go-to-market’ requirements. The company will also be looking at raising more capital later this financial year for implementing its expansion plans.
One of the earliest challenges for the company was creating a product solution with optimised treatment efficiency, low operating and maintenance costs, while focusing on sanitation and control of environmental degradation. “As with most developments, funding and time were the critical components since we had decided to launch our products within six months,” points out Bastikar.
Setting-up a dedicated research and development base is one of the essential areas for the company to facilitate continuous upgradation. The funding from Nexus filled the need for capital. “They also assisted us with their inputs during our business plan and strategy development phase,” he shares.
Market acceptance and application sustainability was another big challenge for the company. The business development and process engineering teams jointly created a protocol of checklists for all products being commissioned. This helps to periodically monitor each plant, irrespective of capacity, application or location. Engineers then assess, analyse and prepare systemic treatment trending charts per plant and the way each behaves with respect to benchmarks set. This helps Jaldhara create a treatability-quotient analysis to improve treatment efficiencies.
To reach across various territories, Jaldhara works through channel associates. “We have also put in place the fastest order-to-delivery mechanisms through our assembly line manufacturing and eventually hope to create a new benchmark in time taken from order to commissioning,” explains Bastikar.
The supply-demand imbalance has been to Jaldhara’s advantage and Bastikar says confidently that the enquiry base is very strong and the order book, healthy. “Global climate change highlights the need to bring in ground-level reforms. Markets have now started looking at resources and solutions to meet their ‘point-of-entry’ and ‘point-of-discharge’ systems. These markets are very large and are constantly in need of decentralised solutions in the form of products. Time is of the essence here,” he cautions.
For the future
Urbanisation and growing demand of water use will definitely see growth in this sector. There has been a significant growth in the number of townships and infrastructure expansion projects in both Tier I and Tier II cities. Therefore, while continuously working on developing new treatment applications and solutions, the company also plans to grow in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) segment in the near future. This could be via an acquisition or a joint venture. This would form part of its expansion plans to enable prequalification in the larger plant capacity segments like municipal and large industrial applications.
Bastikar believes that stakeholders like solution-providers and implementers will need to have a long-term vision. And Jaldhara aims to be one of the important cogs in this wheel of the new man-made water cycle of polluting first and cleaning next.
Municipal Corporations, public health departments and public works departments try to meet the growing demand for water treatment by adapting new methodologies. But, the critical factor still is, ‘how soon’ can they respond to such changing growth trends. Among the future requirements and trends in this sector, the most vital would be zero liquid discharge (ZLD) and zero discharge (ZD). This almost certainly will form the stepping-stone of controlling environmental degradation besides helping the authorities in implementing better control. Technologies will go through a constant state of evolution. This will also change the discharge norms and statutory environmental regulations, so it is important to concentrate on the reduction of discharge.
Cost of compliance with respect to increasing regulatory requirements will be high and modifications or changes in infrastructure will be at a price.
- Stricter and more stringent effluent quality standards
- Requirements for lower or nil sludge production
- Localised treatment incentives and/or subsidies
- Reduced plant complexity and less dependency on manual operability
- Newer treatment concepts like more compact and packaged plants, full recycle and water reuse
- Lower maintenance costs