Says Sudhakaran Nair, President – Indian Plumbing Association & Chairman World Plumbing Council
Considering numerous hurdles before the infrastructure and construction industry last year, how do you track the overall growth of plumbing industry?
The plumbing industry in India consists of organized and un-organized sectors with the former handling no more than 25 percent volume of total plumbing works. Since every building structure meant for human habitation requires plumbing and as the organized sector consisting of qualified and experienced consultants and contractors is relatively small across the country, this group generally has remained busy. When there was a downward trend in the real-estate market, hospitality and healthcare projects kept them busy. As the growth of the plumbing industry is directly related to the construction industry, it is true that a slow-down in construction activities is bound to affect the plumbing sector as well. There is, however, no reliable data available on the un-organized part of the plumbing industry. Plumbing product manufacturers are the ones certain to be affected.
What are the current trends in the sector?
Plumbing should not be treated as just another building service since, as you have rightly pointed out, incorrect plumbing installations can have serious implications on the health and safety of occupants of a building, apart from the building structure itself. Most known communicable diseases are caused and spread due to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. The WHO acknowledged that un-safe plumbing contributed to the death of nearly 300 people due to spread of the deadly SARS virus in Hong Kong in 2003. In India, until recently, plumbing used to be appreciated only when trouble started. There is certainly an increased awareness now as the importance of technically correct plumbing installations is slowly being realized. The size and sophistication of buildings now being built are much larger than in the past. These structures call for technically safe modern plumbing systems which only qualified and experienced plumbing professionals can provide.
Do you see a lack of training and quality of installation in the plumbing activities today in India?
We have never had any formal education for plumbing professionals in India. Our architects and civil engineers who lead construction teams, themselves have little or no exposure to plumbing engineering. The few good plumbing professionals available in India now are the creation of the private sector. Few renowned plumbing consulting and contracting firms literally became training institutions. Over the years, young engineers and other technical personnel learned the craft through experience, working in these organizations. Implementation is by partnering with existing educational and vocational training institutions. Under PEEP, there are distinct curriculums for Plumbing Design Engineers, Construction Managers, Master Plumbers and Apprentice Plumbers.