"Studies show there will be no adverse impact, either on marine system or fisherfolk"
CHENNAI: Chennai Water Desalination Limited, a special purpose vehicle for the 100 million litre a day (MLD) desalination project mooted by the State Government, has answered all queries raised by the Union Environment and Forests Ministry for obtaining environmental clearance.
The Ministry, in a communication on December 28 last year, raised questions on issues such as chemical characteristics of the effluents and solid waste, including the sludge, and the impact of the discharge of saline water on various biological entities on the livelihood of the coastal community.
The company replied five days later. On January 10, another letter was received from the Ministry. This was replied to by the SPV on Friday.
In its responses, the SPV submitted that environment impact assessment, covering marine and terrestrial aspects, had been conducted. Various studies, including computer modelling, had also been carried out. All these showed there would be no adverse impact, either on the marine system or the fisherfolk.
The project would, instead, provide direct and indirect employment opportunities to the local population. No solid waste would be generated by the reverse osmosis system to be employed for treating seawater. Total suspended solids in the 'reject water' would not exceed 75 mg/l, well within the norms prescribed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board for effluents discharged in the marine coastal area.
Chemicals to be added during the treatment process would not be hazardous. As discharge of 'reject water' would be a continuous process, without any retention in the plant, the possibility of development of sludge "is extremely rare, almost negligible."
The company furnished to the Ministry the resume of experts hired to conduct the studies.
As advised by the Ministry, the SPV approached the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) for further studies. A week ago, a team of CMFRI scientists visited the plant site and interacted with the fisherfolk.
The only requirement to be fulfilled is the submission of a CMFRI report to the Ministry, sources in the SPV say. The Ministry can now accord sanction as the question of implementing any measures to be suggested by the CMFRI will assume relevance only after the plant is commissioned. The company has given an undertaking to the Ministry that it will implement the recommendations made by the Institute and has made sufficient allocation of funds.
To a query on when the CMFRI would complete its study, a senior official of the Institute said: "It is too early to say. We have written to the Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (under which the CMFRI comes) for approval. On getting the nod, we will complete our work as early as possible."