The Maharashtra government’s ambitious plans to set up desalination plants in the state finally took shape with the specially appointed committee deciding to set up two units—one in the island city and the other in the western suburbs. The latter will also supply water to Mira-Bhayander. If everything goes fine, officials insist, the first phase of construction will be completed by the end of 2013 and citizens can expect a supply of 25 mld (million litres a day) initially. Each of them will be able to provide 100 mld once fully operational. “Collectors of Mumbai city and suburban districts have been instructed to identify land along the coast so that the plants can be set up in a phase-wise manner as soon as possible,’’ an official said.
The cost of the project has not been worked out yet. “The Chennai unit—on which the state plants will be based—has a capacity to desalinate 100 mld through reverse osmosis and had cost Rs 600 crore. However, considering the cost escalation and realty rates in Mumbai, the state’s twin projects will cost more. The government may also allow for the construction on build operate and transfer (BOT) basis,’’ another official said. “While the BMC will take care of the project in the island city, MMRDA will supervise the one being planned in the suburbs,’’ the official said. “Since Mira-Bhayander has been facing acute water shortage due to rapid urbanization, we decided to include the township in the distribution network,’’ he added.
Incidentally, the MMRDA has already appointed a consultant for the project. “Water is the most precious commodity in Mumbai. And considering the dry phases the city has gone through, a desalination unit is the need of the hour,’’ another official said.