Praj Sees Water-Treatment as India Business Growth Story

Praj Industries Ltd., backed by billionaires Vinod Khosla and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, plans to sell more water purification and waste-treatment plants to pharmaceutical companies and textile makers in India.

The Pune-based company known for its ethanol plants expects to earn as much as a fourth of revenue in India from its water business in five years, Chairman Pramod Chaudhari said in an interview. Praj reported 7.26 billion rupees ($117 million) in net sales in the financial year ended March 2013.

“The Indian industry is under pressure to reduce water consumption,” he said from New Delhi. “And this is creating an opportunity for us to develop better technology.” Praj acquired the Mumbai-based clean-water technology company Neela Systems Ltd. in 2012 to help expand its business, he said.

Industrial water demand in India may surge 57 percent by 2025 with the country being the most water-stressed of the Group of 20 nations that includes China, according to HSBC Holdings Plc. Water availability in India per person fell 15 percent in a decade, according to a 2011 census.

Increasing demand for clean water from drugmakers in India, where a fifth of the world’s generics are made, is helping Praj, Chaudhari said. It has built water-treatment plants for 14 pharmaceutical companies including Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Lupin Ltd. and Reliance Life Sciences.

Praj is also looking to expand its water business abroad where it has a presence in 60 countries, Chaudhari said on Feb. 17. It plans too to sell zero-discharge wastewater-treatment plants to textile and mining companies, the chairman said.

Praj has set up a wastewater-treatment plant for textile makers in Tirupur in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where more than 600 bleaching and dyeing units have had to close over the last two years due to a lack of effluent treatment.

The company is currently building a zero-liquid discharge plant at Sirupooluvapatti in Tamil Nadu, Praj also said.

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