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India’s Water Desalination Business to Triple to $1.2 Billion

India’s water desalination business is set to triple to $1.2 billion by 2017 as rising demand from industry spurs the South Asian country to build more purification plants, according to a research report.

The number of units that process sea water in India will reach 500 in five years from 180 now, with more than 300 plants being built in the states of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra, TechSci Research said in its report. Saudi Arabia leads the global desalination market worth $14.3 billion, according to Karan Chechi, TechSci’s research director.

“Improved hybrid technologies and reverse osmosis have cut production costs and initial investment in water desalination industry compared with traditional methods,” Chechi said in a telephone interview from Noida, near New Delhi. “This is attracting investors.”

Indiscriminate sinking of wells by farmers is depleting ground water resources in the world’s second-most populous nation, prompting the government to spend about $1 billion for mapping aquifers. Desalination plants may help supply water for power producers, drug makers and others, said Chechi.

More than 85 percent of India’s villages and half of its cities rely on wells for water in the country where farming accounts for 90 percent of total water withdrawals. India allocated 536.6 billion rupees ($11 billion) for urban supply projects in the five years ending March 2012.

The market for desalination in India, which has a coastline of 7,517 kilometers (4,671 miles), may be worth $630 million by 2014, according to TechSci. Power plants and pharmaceutical companies use 72 percent of the current capacity, with the remainder taken up by municipal corporations, TechSci said.

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