25 July 2003
Ahmedabad: Come monsoons, and the fear of water-borne diseases breaking out runs high in both urban and rural areas. Safe drinking water, thus, becomes a priority and this is a cue for the Rs 600-crore domestic water purification industry to step up its operations.
Not surprisingly, various companies involved in water purification and water treatment are aggressively marketing their products. But, in spite of the tremendous potential for expansion and growth, the water purification industry has not had an easy time, partly because a water purifier is still not considered a consumer durable and partly because of issues of pricing, low margins and technology.
The big operators in this segment are market leader Eureka Forbes, a joint venture between Forbes Gokak (part of the Shapoorji Pallonji group), and Electrolux AB of Sweden, Ion Exchange, Permionics India, Softel Machines and Sintex Industries. Besides, there are a number of local and regional players in the unorganised sector. As much as 75 per cent of the market is accounted for by Eureka Forbes with its brand AquaGuard. The rest of the players are fighting for the remaining 25 per cent of the market.
The differentiating factor among various brands is the kind of technology being used. Up to now, the ultra violet or the UV technology, used by companies like Eureka Forbes, Sintex Industries and a several other smaller players, has been the dominant technology. However, ultra filtration membrane technology and reverse osmosis are now being used increasingly.
Adapting to local conditions
The condition of the water and the kind of impurities determine the kind of technology suitable for a particular area. There are three main kinds of impurities — suspended particles, microbiological impurities (which include bacteria, viruses and pyrogens), and excess dissolved salts.