“There is a an almost uncanny fit between India’s needs in the urban water arena, and what Israeli companies are able to offer,” so says Abraham Tenne, VP Desalination at Israel’s Water Authority following a visit last week to India. The visit was one implementation of an agreement signed this past February between the two nations aimed at fostering cooperation, with a focus on urban water management.
The delegation of Israeli water experts included, in addition to Tenne, Oded Distel, head of Israel NewTech, Zohar Yinon, CEO of the Jerusalem Water Authority “Hagihon” , and Elisha Arad of the Standards Institute of Israel.
The experts toured the Raipur water system, as guests of Taran Prakash Sinha, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation Raipur. Raipur is the capital city of the state of Chhattisgarh, with a population of over a million, and its urban water system is in need of a major transformation. The Indian participants in the Raipur visit were very interested in learning from Israel’s experience in the management of water systems and urban wastewater.
Following this visit, the delegation continued on to Delhi, for a seminar sponsored by the Indian Ministry of Urban Planning. The seminar was attended by 50 representatives of urban water utilities from all over India.
We spoke with Oded Distel just after the event. “India presents huge challenges in urban water planning. First and foremost, a change in ‘concept’ is needed, one in which people begin to perceive water as the precious resource that it is.” Distel continued, “Once this change in perception occurs, then changes can be achieved in urban water supply, management, measurement, pricing and collection. This is a very dramatic change, but the community of Indian urban water professionals appears poised to make it.”
Abraham Tenne of the Israel Water Authority also told us about the Delhi conference. “India today is roughly in the situation in which Israel was 10 or so years ago, with 12 different government ministries responsible for urban water. This created a lot of confusion and inefficiency, which was solved when water treatment was placed under the leadership of the Water Authority. The Indian water community looks to Israel as a sort of guru, they know the Israeli water industry very well and hold it in very high regard.”
The Delhi conference included one on one meetings between the many Indian water professionals and water utility heads who attended, and the Israeli water technology companies who came to India on the delegation: Bermad, Ari, Amiad, Mekorot, Tahal, Powercom, LR, Mira Holdings, Aqwise and Arad.
Yoni Ben Zaken, the Israeli Economic Attache in India, concluded, “Raipur is a starting point, but there are 600 more cities in India with a similar urban water situation and needs, so the market potential is very significant.”
For an album of photos from the delegation’s visit click here.