In order to achieve a circular economy in the water sector, the government has launched several national programmes like AMRUT, the Jal Jeevan Mission and Namami Gange. These programmes consolidate the efforts to create water-secure cities. Phase II of AMRUT aims to provide tap water connections and universal coverage of septage services to households, among other services, with central funding support. Meanwhile, the Jal Jeevan Mission envisions the provision of safe and adequate drinking water through tap connections to all households by 2024. Under the Namami Gange programme, there has been measurable progress in terms of reducing pollution and rejuvenating the river Ganga. The larger aim now is to improve the overall ecosystem of the Ganga basin. In terms of the number of projects and sewage treatment capacity, the Ministry of Jal Shakti plans to commission a significantly larger proportion of the work.

To ensure sustainable reuse of treated wastewater, the implementation of decentralised methods of treatment is necessary. These decentralised wastewater treatment systems are cost effective and include in-situ technologies such as constructed wetlands, waste stabilisation ponds and anaerobic digesters. Moreover, the implementation of technologies such as IoT, AI and robotics is expected to help overcome issues such as pipeline leakages and non-revenue water, and create opportunities for the automation of pro­cesses. The other flagship government programme, the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) has been progressing well in terms of upgrading and developing infrastructure for a clean and sustainable environment by deploying smart solutions. The SCM projects focus on improving municipal services, addressing issues related to climate change, increasing the use of public transport and promoting non-motorised vehicles. Technology interventions such as the implementation of 5G, electric vehicles, IoT and secure wireless connectivity are gaining traction. Of the 100 smart cities, 22, including Bhopal, Indore, Agra, Varanasi and Chennai, are expected to complete project implementation by mid-2023. The remaining smart city projects are progressing fairly well and are expected to be completed by mid- to end-2023.

IT is becoming the backbone of the gas industry too, with the increased adoption of advanced technologies. There are an increasing number of connected devices and a growing use of cloud computing. Gas utilities are adopting digital solutions for quality and construction management, queue management at CNG stations, and mapping of assets.

This digital transformation is essential for the gas industry to stay competitive in the face of the growing uptake of renewable energy. Utilities need to optimise their operations and processes through effective data governance and management. The lack of fit-for-purpose technology, non-availability of the right eq­uipment and instruments, and difficulty in choosing the right software are some of the bottlenecks in deploying advanced technologies. That said, the adoption of digital solutions for asset management is the future for ensuring access to real-time data, enhancing process efficiency and improving scalability.

The power sector, meanwhile, is witnessing an increasing uptake of IT and OT solutions to improve system efficiency and resilience, optimise costs and fast forward the clean energy transition. Technological advances, declining costs and improved connectivity have accelerated the pace of digital transformation. As digitalisation enhances access to more granular and real-time data with the deployment of sensors, utilities in the generation, transmission and distribution segments have begun to transition to predictive and condition-based asset management strategies. Grid-related investments in digital technologies, in particular, are rising rapidly in the distribution segment. A major driver for technology adoption is the power ministry’s Rs 3 trillion Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme that aims to achieve 100 per cent smart prepaid metering and system metering at the feeder and distribution transformer levels.

To realise the full potential of digital transformation, utilities must prioritise capacity building in digitalisation and chalk out a roadmap for holistic digital transformation. Furthermore, as systems become more connected, enhancing cybersecurity and data privacy is paramount.