As the city warms up for another scorching summer, the first desalination plant installed in the district is rusting away at the entrance of Kumbalanghi Model Tourism Village. It was installed in 2004 through the District Tourist Promotion Council and operated by the village panchayat.
“It was set up to address acute shortage of water in Wards 1 and 2 of the Kumbalanghi panchayat. After installation, tests showed that the desalination plant generated water purer than those supplied through pipes. But it functioned only for five or six months before falling out of use,” said M.P. Sivadathan, who was the then panchayat president.
The panchayat was to maintain the plant at an expense of Rs. 500 per day. Local residents alleged that the potable water supply lobby mobilised opinion against the plant, and spread canards that the water generated at the plant had toilet waste content.
The Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) made another attempt to install a desalination plant at Saudi in Fort Kochi.
“There is a misconception among the public that this plant is not economically viable. On the other hand, a survey done at Mattanchery showed that people were willing to pay for drinking water. When we thought of the plant, we got offers from Israel and Russia, but unfortunately these offers were not followed up properly,” said Antony Isaac, former chairman of GCDA.
When he put in his papers in 2006, the proposal for the desalination plant that could purify two lakh litres of water daily was only in its initial stage. Nothing happened after that.
The GCDA is now working on another proposal of installing a water purification plant at Panangad.