Desalination plants face roadblock

Centre defers issuing CRZ clearance, seeks more details; expresses concern regarding coastal erosion

Published - February 23, 2017 01:25 am IST - CHENNAI

The commissioning of two more desalination plants to cater to the city’s burgeoning water demands has suffered yet another delay with the projects not getting coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance from the Centre.

The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has deferred clearance for the projects and sought more information.

Chennai Metrowater has a 100 mld desalination plant at Nemmeli on the East Coast Road. It proposes to construct another desalination plant with a capacity to treat 150 mld on the same site. One more plant with a capacity of treating 400 mld of seawater has been planned on a 50-acre site in Perur, barely 600 m from the Nemmeli plant.

Chennai Metrowater recently called for consultants for project management and supervision of the proposed plant in Nemmeli. At the same time, the EAC has raised questions about coastal erosion close to the existing plant at Nemmeli and sought another study to assess the impact of changes to the shoreline.

It has also asked for fresh recommendations from the Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority. Pointing out that the the proposed plant in Perur will be set up at a distance of less than one km from Nemmeli, the EAC has also enquired about the possibility of the constructing a large plant with a capacity of 600 mld instead of two facilities in such proximity

Sources in Chennai Metrowater said the water agency was compiling details, including the financial and environmental implications of the project. The coastal erosion study was being carried out and the water agency expected to get CRZ clearance by May for the project, they said. Metrowater was also in the process of finalising tenders for building and designing the plant.

On the feasibility of building a desalination plant of 600 mld instead of two facilities, Metrowater sources said that it could be difficult to arrange funding for such a huge plant.

Financially viable?

Water experts also are of the opinion that plants with a large capacity would incur huge investment and might not be financially viable. Moreover, it could also lead to technical issues such as sourcing higher capacities and choosing the right material.

At present, the desalination plants in Minjur and Nemmeli with a capacity of 100 mld each contribute to 16% of the water demand of the city. While the new plant in Nemmeli is set to come up with the assistance of KfW, the German funding agency, the State government has sought funding under Japan International Cooperation Agency for the plant in Perur.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.