An alliance of businesses in the business of water

Expanding water opportunities with India

July 31, 2018

Water and food security have been identified as key entry points for education, research, capacity development, technology and innovation, as Australia prepares to play a greater role in trade and investment with India.

In Peter Varghese’s report An India Economic Strategy to 2035, ICE WaRM is pleased to see recommendations for strategic investment in Australia’s relationship with India and for a long term and ambitious strategy led at the highest levels of government.

“There is no market over the next twenty years which offers more growth opportunities for Australian business than India. Getting our India strategy right will both enhance the prosperity and security of Australians and help realise the aspirations of the 1.3 billion Indians who sense their time has come and a better life is within their grasp,” Varghese writes. “Australia must prepare for that.”

Recently updated figures for 2017 by the World Bank show that India is now the world’s sixth-biggest economy, overtaking France. The US has the biggest economy, followed by China, Japan and Germany and Britain. In April, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the Indian economy would grow at 7.4% in 2018, and 7.8% in 2019, higher than China at 6.6% and 6.4% in the two years.

Recognised for innovative collaborative approaches to capacity development, ICE WaRM has been delivering programmes for water management and sustainable economic development in India through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP), the Australia Awards Fellowship (AAF) Programme, and investment through the Australian Water Partnership.

In his report Varghese highlights the South Australian government’s sister-state agreement with the Government of Rajasthan, and the commitment to establish the Rajasthan Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (RaCE WaRM), as an exemplar for economic engagement with India.

RaCE WaRM is a best practice model which brings together government, research institutions and the private sector, to provide an evidence base for policy and practice. A similar model was developed in Australia through the Co-operative Research Centre programme but it is not as common in India.

Managing Director of ICE WaRM, Darryl Day, said “RaCE WaRM’s progress has been possible through a commitment to building trusted relationships at all levels, from the political leadership, to water professionals in research, policy and practice. Business with India will only succeed through investing strategically in long term relationships.”

In July ICE WaRM hosted 14 engineers from the Rajasthan Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) under the Australia Award Fellowship (AAF) programme. Participants, selected by RaCE WaRM for the three-week ‘Integrated Groundwater Management’ programme, heard from key South Australian experts and discussed at length how Australia’s water experience could inform decision making in Rajasthan.

The programme engaged the University of Adelaide, Flinders University (including the New Venture Institute, and The National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training) and the South Australian Department for Environment and Water.

Highly-regarded presenters included Dr Peter Dillon and experts from Australian Water Environments, SA Water and Australian National University, Environment Protection Authority, CSIRO and Western Sydney University.

One of the early initiatives of RaCE WaRM was establishing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for collaboration with the Malaviya National Institute of Technology (MNIT), in Jaipur, to support evidence-based policy and the provision of water services, aligning research and knowledge transfer with priorities for the people of Rajasthan. The MoU also connects with South Australian Government support through ICE WaRM and its shareholder universities including the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, the University of South Australia.

South Australian company Hydro-dis, winner of the 2018 Water Industry Alliance’s Smart Water Award for Alliancing, partnered with the MNIT to evaluate a demonstration disinfection plant in a 400-student accommodation unit in Jaipur. The testing program was designed to facilitate Indian certification of the Hydro-dis technology as a pathway for installation throughout India.

“Working within a Centre of Excellence model has enabled Hydro-dis to access to highly credible and trusted research partners able to evaluate innovative technology in the local context,” said Mark Carey, Managing Director of Hydro-dis.

“Innovation is part of the solution to improving access to safe drinking water supplies in India, but it requires the confidence of governments as regulators and investors. This would not be possible without the collaborative approach between government, research and industry.”

Following successful completion of the evaluation phase of the demonstration unit, Hydro-dis, in partnership with the Rajasthan PHED (who have provided suitable sites), RaCEWaRM and MNIT are about to reconfigure the demonstration unit for two field trials sites.

The Australian Government is reviewing recommendations outlined in the report “India Economic Strategy to 2035”, with a response expected in September 2018. ICE WaRM is looking forward to providing ongoing support to RaCE WaRM, and other strategic relations in India.

Hydro-dis Managing Director Mark Carey (R) and Engineer Rob Richardson at the 2018 Smart Water Awards.