Water purification industry to abide by virus-filtration protocol

At present, the virus filtration protocol criteria does not exist in IS 10500 Indian Drinking Water standards, but it is expected to be added soon

Ahmedabad: It might be mandatory for all household water purification devices in India to abide by the virus filtration protocol, says a member of industry body Water Quality Association (WQA), reports PTI.

The unorganised household water purification industry (water purifiers manufactured in unorganised sector) in India is pegged close to Rs1,500 crore, which experts claim is complying with standards to filter bacteria only and lacks measures to filter viruses.

The organised household water purification device market in India is pegged close to Rs700 crore.

"The unorganised water purification industry will soon have to abide with the virus filtration protocols. The issue is in advanced stages of discussion with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), it could be introduced by this year end," a member of WQA said.

A report by National Institute of Virology (NIV) released in 2009 had sparked off a debate over the effectiveness of household water purification devices in the country.

The WQA works in tandem with BIS on raising the benchmark standards for industry. It comprises research analysts from industry who share views on development in the sector and deliberate on future requirements in regards to standards.

"Presently, the virus filtration protocol criteria does not exist in IS 10500 Indian Drinking Water standards, but it is expected to be added soon," Rahul Pathak of Uniqflux Membranes said.

"But, a few leading players from the organised water purification industry are already abiding by virus filtration protocols," he claimed.

The company is a licensee of Bhavnagar based Central Salt Marine and Chemical Research Institute (CSMCRI) to manufacture hollow fibre membranes for water purification devices, capable of filtering Log 4 viruses.

CSMCRI had developed, patented and thereafter licensed the novel hollow membrane fibre technology to industry, which is capable of filtering viruses and can be used to manufacture low cost water purification devices.

Explaining about Log 4 viruses, Pathak said it is the count of virus raised to power of 10 present in water. An effective purification device is one whose output shows zero virus content after filtration.

The Pune based Uniqflux manufactures membranes for original equipment manufacturers like Eureka Forbes, Uniliver amongst others.

It has started manufacturing 'Hollow Fiber UF Membranes' which the company claims are capable of rejecting Log 4 Virus, and passes the international USEPA protocol for water purification devices.

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Diesel, LPG price hike not under consideration says Reddy

Reddy said no dates have yet been fixed for convening a meeting of a ministerial panel to decide on revising rates of diesel, LPG and kerosene

New Delhi: Still battling the fallout of last week's steep Rs7.54 a litre hike in petrol price, the government on Monday said it is not considering raising rates of diesel, domestic gas (LPG) and kerosene for the moment, reports PTI.

"We are not considering hike prices of diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene. It is out of question right now," Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy told reporters after a meeting called by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the impact of fuel price hike on inflation.

Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu was also present at the inter-ministerial grouping on inflation.

Reddy said no dates have yet been fixed for convening a meeting of a ministerial panel to decide on revising rates of diesel, LPG and kerosene.

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on fuel prices, headed by Mukherjee, hasn't met since June last year even though depreciation in the rupee and rise in international oil prices have raised the cost of imports.

"It was only a meeting of the inter-ministerial group to look at the question of inflation. I was requested to come and offer my insights before they finalise their group recommendations," Reddy said.

"I focused on the price of diesel and its impact on inflation as a whole," he said without elaborating. "No date has been fixed for EGoM on diesel price deregulation."

The EGoM had in June 2010 taken an in-principle decision to deregulate or decontrol diesel prices but its implementation was deferred.

"In my perception, the EGoM will not meet soon...certainly not this month," an official said.

The government is believed to be buying time to let flared tempers cool before calling the meeting of the EGoM where the Congress party's ruling allies TMC and DMK are also represented. Both TMC and DMK have held street protests against the hike in petrol price. .

"I am not going to touch the prices of LPG, diesel, kerosene. Period," Reddy said.

The minister had last week stated that he was urging Mukherjee to convene meeting of EGoM soon.

Reddy said he was not considering dual pricing of diesel -- subsidised price for trucks and another rate for high-end luxury cars and power gensets, as it was not practical to implement.

Also, his proposal for levying a one-time duty of Rs80,000 on diesel cars was under consideration of the Finance Ministry.

Reddy had stated last year, "The logic in favour of increase in price of diesel is unassailable but politics and logic don't go together.

"What is desirable is known. Politics is the art of making desirable (politically) acceptable."

State-owned oil companies currently lose Rs512 crore per day on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene. Diesel is currently sold at a loss of Rs15.35 a litre, kerosene at Rs32.98 per litre loss and oil firms lose Rs479 on sale of every 14.2-kg domestic LPG cylinder.

IOC, HPCL and BPCL had together lost Rs1.38 lakh crore in revenue in 2011-12. This year they are projected to lose a record Rs1.93 lakh crore.

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Which way: More Pain Ahead

The economy will not improve on its own; and this government can’t do much

From a little above 4,700 on 9th June, the Nifty had embarked on a major rally that took the index all the way to 5,621. As happens, the rally came against the backdrop of a dismal global situation and absolutely no improvement in the domestic situation. And yet, in less than two months, foreign institutional investors pumped in billions of dollars into the Indian markets with the hope that the year-long bear market is over. Since price action is an important factor in our analysis, I labelled the market move ‘Baby Bull’ (issue 9 February 2012). Price action was important to focus on, since we were in the middle of a quarter and were not in a position to estimate how good or bad the corporate earnings were.

In the event, corporate results turned out to be poor. It was the same old story. Demand is strong and so sales growth was robust but cost pressures leave companies with poor profit growth. Of the 1,150 companies Moneylife tracks, 703 companies reported profit growth of just 6%. Given the poor earnings growth (including those of bellwether stocks like Infosys, Hero Honda and Tata Motors), institutional investors were disappointed. But greater disappointment came from a totally unexpected quarter.

Over the past couple of years, export growth has been robust which was surprising. But last year, a fine piece of research by Kotak Securities questioned the quality of the data. Among other things, Reliance was exporting billions of dollars worth of petroleum products to the Bahamas while, intriguingly, engineering exports were rising by 80%. We believe a lot of exports were dubious and, predictably, this year, exports have collapsed. Meanwhile, imports, which are real, especially crude oil imports, have surged, leaving a gaping hole in India’s balance of payments and sending the rupee on a long slide. A rupee value of Rs56/US$ means importing more inflation, especially since we are in no position to cut our import bill substantially. This also means that interest rates will not come down. Fixed-income products will remain more attractive than equities. A sliding rupee also means that foreigners feel discouraged to invest in India. Lower capital inflows means higher chances of the rupee remaining weak, discouraging portfolio investments further—a vicious cycle.

To thoughtful economists, this is not news. They have been talking about the impact of poor fiscal management and trade deficits for a long time, but who listens to economists? In securities firms, they are not seen as performing a ‘line’ function. They are in ‘staff’ functions. Fund managers are focused on what companies do and that, too, solely on their financial performance or sometimes on ‘stories’ (consumption story, for example). They are, therefore, often blindsided by two factors. One, corporate governance issues and, two, worsening/improving economic conditions.

They may make a third mistake: assume that the government will do something, now that things are getting quite alarming. The government has two years to face the general elections and will muddle along. We expect no improvement in the macroeconomic picture and this will keep corporate earnings under pressure. The market has now turned down decisively. Indeed, the Nifty can slide all the way to 4,200. We will explain the math behind this in the next issue. We have turned neutral for now.

(Feedback at [email protected])

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