Plan to quench city’s thirst with sea water hits a hurdle

Two days after the state government approved a proposal for desalinating sea water to resolve the water woes of the city,the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation ruled out the possibility...

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:July 11, 2009 11:16 pm

Two days after the state government approved a proposal for desalinating sea water to resolve the water woes of the city,the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ruled out the possibility saying that purification of sea water is not feasible considering the high costs involved.

The civic body,however,added that if monsoon woes persist it may give the proposal a thought but it will take two years for a plant to be set up in the city.

Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak told a news conference on Friday that desalination is an expensive process. “Desalinated water will cost Rs 48 per kilo litre as against Rs 7 for lifting,pumping and treating water from lakes.”

He said even the Navy had proposed to set up a desalination plant,but the Mumbai Port Trust could not provide the required 10-15 acres of land in south Mumbai. “If there is less rainfall and lakes are not filled for another two months,we will have to explore all options. We will send our engineers to Chennai,which has set up such a plant. It will take at least two years to set up such a plant,” he said.

The civic body will go ahead with cloud seeding to create artificial rain in the catchment areas of lakes that supply water to the city. Rainman Shantilal Meckoni will carry out experiments to this effect in the coming days.

The rain situation at the catchment areas remains crucial,with Modak Sagar recording 8 mm of rainfall,Tansa 9 mm,Upper Vaitarna 4 mm and Bhatsa 51 mm. Civic officials said that Tansa and Upper Vaitarna lakes,that provide water to the western suburbs,at present have 28,000 litres of water that could last another 21 days. Bhatsa lake,that provides water to the eastern suburbs,has 1 lakh 10 thousand litres of water that may last 40-50 days.

Soon,city to get more rainwater harvesting plants
To counter water shortage,the BMC is turning to the eco-friendly method of rainwater harvesting. It has proposed setting up such plants on the premises of 43 municipal buildings across the city. The plan is to store rainwater in tanks. In November,bore wells will be dug. Each ward will build the rainwater harvesting plant in at least 10 locations.

Though the BMC has made rainwater harvesting plants mandatory for new constructions since 2002,Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak agreed that the plan remains on paper. “Buildings have to construct two tanks,one for potable water and another for collection of rain water,” he said.

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