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More desalination plants in pipeline

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The State government has planned to set up more desalination plants to cater to the drinking water requirements of four districts – Chennai, Cuddalore, Villupuram and Ariyalur.

In the case of Chennai, the desalination project will be implemented through Chennai Metrowater and in respect of others, through the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board, according to an official release issued on Friday.

Initially, the capacity of the Chennai project will be 200 million litres a day (MLD) and the cumulative capacity of the project for the three other districts will also be 200 MLD. Gradually, the capacity will go up to 400 MLD in both cases.

The release stated that Chennai Metrowater and the TWAD Board would select one consultant each for the projects. At present, a 100-MLD desalination plant is functioning in Minjur, using seawater. The reverse osmosis membrane-based plant has been established through the design, build, own, operate and transfer (DBOOT) mode. Another 100-MLD plant is coming up in Nemmeli on East Coast Road. The Union government is funding the desalination plant project, which is expected to be completed by December 2011.

One reason attributed to the selection of Cuddalore and Ariyalur is that a number of industrial projects are in the pipeline in these districts.

Traditionally, surface water, sub-surface water and groundwater were utilised to meet the drinking water requirements. For Chennai, the surface water storage points such as Cholavaram, Red Hills, Chemparampakkam,Porur and Veeranam tanks as also the Satyamurti Sagar in Poondi are being tapped, besides an agglomerate of deep borewells in the Araniar-Kosathalaiyar basin.

The growing use of water sources for agriculture and domestic consumption is resulting in depletion of the groundwater table. Despite the State having 17 river basins, it is becoming extremely difficult to find adequate water sources for drinking water projects. The government has also found that projects, based on the inter-basin transfer of water and meant for the ever-increasing requirements in Chennai and other districts, are costly.

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