Opportunities in the environment and water sector in India

The country of India is currently facing problems in managing air pollution, water pollution, and in the management of waste but these are only a few of the challenges they face:

  • At least 13 of the world’s most air polluted cities can be found in India
  • India is considered as the largest and fastest growing greenhouse gas emitters in the world.
  • 30% to 40% of India’s industrial units produce sizeable quantities of pollutants.
  • At least 3 million small-scale enterprises are not using pollution control equipment.
  • The number of polluted rivers in India has doubled over the last five years.
  • 55 million tons of solid waste is generated every year in at least over 468 cities in India yet only 70% of this solid waste is collected and only 23% is processed and treated.

The government of India was able to classify 17 industrial sectors as “highly polluting” and have subjected these to strict standards. In 2010, the National Green Tribunal Act was passed which led to the creation of the National Green Tribunal by the Parliament of India. It dealt with the effective and expeditious disposal of cases related to environmental protection through various environment management initiatives. The legislative in relation to environmental sustainability is strong yet enforcement of laws and regulations are quite weak.

Important environmental sub-sectors

The following sub-sectors are considered very important and should be the focus for environmental protection. It is through these sub-sectors where opportunities may present themselves:

  • Air pollution
  • Monitoring equipment and services
  • Renewable energy and carbon abatement technologies
  • Solid waste management
  • Water supply and waste water treatment

The Indian pollution control industry

The Indian pollution control industry is comprised of several operating sectors such as:

  • Analytical equipment and services companies
  • Build-own-operate and transfer (BOOT)/build-own-operate (BOO) operators
  • Chemical suppliers
  • Consultants
  • Engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) contractors
  • Specialized equipment suppliers

Market research and reports indicate that the pollution control industry is currently experiencing stagnant growth but experts believe that this is only temporary. It is even estimated that the total market size in India’s pollution control industry will be around $8.5 billion in the coming years.

The pollution control industry is mainly composed of manufacturers in pollution control equipment. Pollution control equipment manufacturers are concerned with the following sectors:

  • Air pollution control
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • Municipal solid waste management
  • Water and waste water management

These sectors are quite promising due to the growth in these industries projected within the next 3 – 5 years.


A total of $126 billion is needed over the next 20 years in order to upgrade India’s water infrastructure. Another $3.4 billion is needed to improve the municipal solid waste management as well. In order to meet these demands, the government of India has allocated $1 trillion for plans in creating 100 smart cities and restore 500 other cities and towns over the next five years. This plan includes:

  • Clean water supply initiatives
  • Effective ways in managing sanitation and waste
  • Efficient mobility and public transport

This is where the opportunities present themselves for foreign investors.

India is now the seat of pollution but despite this drawback, India remains to present the world with countless opportunities. In as much as it is destroying itself, it is also trying its very best to redeem itself environmentally and economically. With the proper market research, industries can find ways on how to fix these problems and use these options as a foundation for business.

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