A Finnish solution to arsenic water in India

September 9th, 2012 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Helsinki, Sep 9 (IANS) A Finnish water chemistry company has been roped in to solve the chronic problem of arsenic water in India.

“We have been asked by India’s ministry of rural development to start a pilot scheme to solve the problem of arsenic water in India,” Aija Jaitunen, general manager - municipal and industrial - of Finnish water chemistry major Kemira told a visiting IANS correspondent here.

For starters, the company has identified seven states in India - Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal - as arsenic water-prone.

Kemira is among a host of Finnish companies that have ventured into the business of clean energy and technology and values India as a market with huge potental.

“Kemira has technology for water desalination plants focused on reducing operating costs and energy consumption,” Jaitunen said.

The company’s technology for removal of arsenic from water includes oxidation and sedimentation, coagulation and filtration, adsorptive filtration and membrane filtration.

“People are used to using ground water as the primary source of drinking water and tube wells are well accepted,” Jaitunen said.

He, however, added that demand for water in India as well as in China is more for agriculture than for municipal (drinking) and industrial needs.

Kemira is among 100 Finnish companies that are operating in India.

In 2010, it signed a 51-49 percent joint venture pact with Hyderabad-based engineering and construction firm IRVCL to supply chemicals to the latter’s water treatment plants.

The company is building a water treatment chemicals manufacturing unit called Kemira Indus-Coagulant Manufacturing at Vishakapatnam, which is set to become operational by the beginning of 2013.

“Once our Vizag plant starts next year, we will start exporting from there to other countries as well,” Jaitunen said.

An over two billion-euro company, Kemira was originally a chemicals manufacturing major that later shifted focus to clean water technology.

It marked its first success in clean water technology with a lake restoration project in Finland in 2002, when it successfully chemical treated lake Kirkkojarvi. The lake’s water is now clean enough to drink directly.

In India, apart from water treatment, Kemira is also involved in a clean sanitation programme.

In association with community development organisation Plan India, the company has started a project for giving access to toilets to schoolchildren at Garsain in Uttrakhand.

Called WASH, the project is focused on maintaining and expanding water and sanitation in 30 target area schools there, especially keeping the girl child in mind.

Kemira’s projects are being supported by Tekes, the public-funded Finnish agency for technology and innovation.

“Tekes supports various Finnish companies that are operating in India,” said Auli Pere, chief advisor of Tekes.

“These companies are operating in the fields of health and well-being, learning solutions, water treatment, information and communications technology (ICT) and energy and environment,” Jaitunen said.

“Kemira is an important company in the realm of water supply and sanitation and providing toilets in rural areas,” she said.

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