India’s Ambitious Water Pipe Plans Could be a Boon to its Domestic Steel Sector

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Piped water to all – a new Government of India (GoI) multimillion-dollar scheme announced recently — comes as a pleasant surprise to India’s steel industry.

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Called the “Nal se Jal” scheme (meaning “water connection to all”), this flagship project aims to provide piped water connection to every household by 2024.

Experts are of the opinion that the new scheme will increase the domestic steel demand, which means massive investments in the sector, according to the Sunday Guardian Live.

Because of its durability and greater life span, steel is ideal for water pipelines and other infrastructural requirements for the flagship scheme.

A news report in Live Mint quoted a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which has estimated that India needs to put in $270 billion (about ₹18.5 trillion) over the next 5-15 years to meet its ambitions of piped water supply to all homes by 2024, cleaning the Ganges River, interlinking rivers to redirect water to water-scarce regions and irrigation projects.

Some experts, though, feel the scheme is too ambitious and may not take off.

As of now, only about 18% of rural households in India have piped water supply.

For one, how the scheme will be financed is something the GoI is still trying to figure out.

One option it is toying with is to take part of the investments from consumers in rural India by a nominal monthly fee, according to a report by The Print.

But according to Indian brokerage firm JM Financial, private sector investment will be a must if the GoI wants to go ahead.

The minister in charge has gone on record to state the government was examining the public-private partnership model for water infrastructure projects. This includes BOT (build, operate and transfer), DBOT (design, build, operate and transfer) and the hybrid annuity model (HAM).

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The JM Financial report said the scheme will likely lead to a massive jump in investments in water and sanitation. These will be made in various verticals, such as pipes, EPC, water treatment pumps, and valves and cement, the Hindu Business Line reported.

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