The Environmental Assessment Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has deferred clearance for a proposal of the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board(CMWSSB) to set up a 400 MLD desalination plant at Nemmeli.
The EAC will review the project only after a team to be set up undertakes a site visit and presents a report.
The committee, however, has given CRZ clearance for a 150 MLD plant, while imposing a ‘penalty’ requiring CMWSSB to “not only develop a robust shoreline erosion control and management mechanism of the area but also submit an undertaking that it shall bear the full cost of environmental damage due to erosion that might arise of the proposed 150 MLD desalination plant”.
The penalty was imposed after noting that CMWSSB had failed to prevent shoreline erosion while setting up a 100 MLD earlier.
According to the minutes of the meeting held on November 28, CMWSSB during the 165th meeting held in January had requested clearance for setting up a desalination plant of 400 MLD capacity at a distance of 600 metres from the site of the proposed 150 MLD plant.
Space for two plants
The EAC said there was “considerable space available” at Perur, the proposed site, to establish both the plants. However, it noted that there was already significant erosion of the shoreline due to the 100 MLD plant commissioned there. A clarification was sought as to why two plants had to be set up instead of a single 600 MLD plant.
CMWSSB informed the EAC that the plants were being funded by different agencies.
“The committee observed that this cannot be reason to justify setting up two separate plants,” according to the minutes. The EAC then said that it would consider only the 150 MLD proposal at present, while dropping the second proposal “for the time being.”
The EAC recommended the 150 MLD proposal for clearance subject to certain conditions, including CMWSSB bearing the full cost of any environmental damage that may arise.