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Maharashtra: BMC approves proposal to set up five-member committee for construction of desalination plant

The BMC standing committee gave its approval for formation of the committee on Monday and on Tuesday, it was cleared by the civic general body.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
February 9, 2021 11:30:27 pm
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, BMC, Mumbai Lockdown, Mumbai covid-19 cases, Mumbai coronavirus cases, mumbai news, indian expressBMC has no plans for a lockdown in Mumbai for now. (Express Archive)

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has approved a proposal of setting up a five-member committee to look into the process of approving a Detailed Project Report (DPR) and finalising contractors for the construction of a desalination plant to fulfill the drinking water requirement of the city.

The committee will be headed by the BMC municipal commissioner, along with the member secretary — who will be chief engineer of the water supply projects department — and three members including two additional municipal commissioners and the deputy municipal commissioner (special engineering).

Following the guidelines of the state government’s notification, a committee under the BMC’s aegis has been proposed to be set up. The BMC standing committee gave its approval for formation of the committee on Monday and on Tuesday, it was cleared by the civic general body. According to the proposal, the formation of the committee will take place as per the Maharashtra Infrastructure Development Enabling Authority (MahaIDEA) Act, 2018. Under the Act, any private agency can submit unsolicited proposals for the development of infrastructure on the basis of public-private partnerships.

Now, the civic body will send a letter to the urban development department for its final approval. According to the proposal, Israel-based IDE Water Technologies Limited had submitted an unsolicited proposal before the BMC to set up a desalination plant with a capacity of 200 million litre daily (MLD), which can be expanded up to 400 MLD in the future. The project will require six to eight hectares of land. While a DPR will take at least eight months to be completed, the construction of the plant will require 30 months.

This project can be awarded on the ‘Swiss Challenge’ method, under which a project can be awarded to a private firm on an unsolicited proposal. This method comprises an application for a new or innovative idea submitted to an agency on the initiative of the offer. for the purpose of obtaining a contract with the government, and is not in response to a request for proposals. The firm that first submits a proposal is approached directly for negotiations and if it doesn’t agree, then other bidders are called.

According to the officials, the construction of the plant will cost the civic body Rs 1,600 crore and maintenance of the plant for 20 years will require another Rs 1,920 crore. As per the proposal, the BMC has finalised a plot in Manori, which has an area of 12 hectares and is under the ownership of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). The civic body has written a letter to the MTDC for handing over the land and it will pay IDE Water Technologies Limited Rs 6 crore for preparing the DPR of the same.

Meanwhile, the BJP has slammed the civic body for approving the proposal. BJP group leader Prabhakar Shinde said that the BMC wants to spend thousands of crore on the desalination project even as the civic body is facing losses.

“The BMC is facing severe financial losses and is planning to spend Rs 3,500 crore on the project. The project has not mentioned the cost of laying water pipelines to transport water to the user end. The DPR has not been prepared and still, the civic body has brought a proposal for approval,“ said Shinde.

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