Mumbai News: Mooted in 2007, Manori desalination plant yet to be a reality

Mumbai News: Mooted in 2007, Manori desalination plant yet to be a reality

Delay apparently due to the challenges posed by the first-of-its-kind multi-crore initiative; project tender likely in June, says a civic official

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Monday, May 22, 2023, 07:33 AM IST
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Mumbai: While the seven lakes supplying water to the city have just 18% of stock, the project that would have ensured 200 million litres of additional supply daily is yet to see the light of day.

The ambitious project to construct a desalination plant on 12-hectare land in the Manori village is still on paper. However, the official claimed that the tender is expected to be floated by next month. The installation cost for the plant is around ₹1,600 crore, while the maintenance expenditure for a 20-year period runs into ₹1,900 crore. It will take more than 3–4 years to complete the project.

First-of-its-kind multi-crore initiative

The delay in executing the project is apparently due to the challenges posed by the first-of-its-kind multi-crore initiative. “The plant will be solar-powered, but it still has several challenges. The cost of the project is high. Also, effluents in the form of hypersaline wastewater or brine are often discharged into the sea without treatment, which can have adverse effects on marine biology. The brine will have to be disposed of into the sea through a diffuser process as per the norms prescribed by the state pollution control board. We have worked out the proposal and are expected to invite a tender by June 2023,” said an official of the water supply project department.

City's reliance on its lakes for potable water causes anxiety

The BMC supplies 3,850 million litres of water daily (MLD). However, the city's reliance on its lakes for potable water causes anxiety every year when the lake levels start dipping. So to augment water supply, the BMC revived an ambitious project of a 200 MLD desalination plant at the Manori village, abutting the sea in the western suburbs. Accordingly, IDE Water Technologies Ltd, an Israeli company, was appointed to prepare a detailed proposal in February 2021. In January 2022, the BMC also hired a consultant, M/s SMEC India, to evaluate the study and designs submitted by the Israeli company. The consultant has approved the study and design submitted by the company.

Project cancelled due to high costs and land issues

The project was first mooted in 2007 after a state government-appointed high-level committee suggested setting up desalination plants in Mumbai. In 2016, the BMC had initiated the process to set up two such plants; one in south Mumbai and another in the western suburbs. However, the proposal was cancelled due to high costs and land issues. It was revived in October 2020 when former Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray showed interest in the project. But after the change of guard in the state, the project's execution has again slowed down, said the civic sources.

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