Mumbai is all set to get its first desalination plant with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday giving the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) the go-ahead to set up a plant. The proposed plant, which will process 200 million litres of water daily (MLD), will come up at Manori and is being set up to overcome the water shortage faced by Mumbai in the months of May and June.
Thackeray said that the desalination project would provide relief to the citizens in tackling the 10 to 15 per cent water cut they face every year in May and June due to the delayed monsoon. “If the project is implemented on solar energy, the production cost will also be reduced. Government land is available at Manori and roads are also available. As there is no urban settlement in this place, the project will be completed without any interruption,” said Thackeray, who took a review of the project on Monday.
BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, in his presentation in the meeting, said that the project is proposed to be set up on 25 to 30 acres of land at Manori and the 200 MLD capacity is convenient for future capacity expansion. The project will take about two and a half to three years to complete and is expected to cost around Rs 1,600 crore. The construction cost will be around 3 to 4 paise per litre, said Chahal.
Officials said that the BMC is planning to take the ‘Swiss Challenge Method’ for the project. Under this, a project can be awarded to a private player on an unsolicited proposal. The private firm which has first submitted a proposal can be approached directly for negotiations and if they do not agree, then other bidders are called. Civic officials said that in a couple of weeks a primary report from the firm will be submitted before the BMC after which a feasibility study will be conducted following the detailed project report (DPR). If all goes as per plan then Mumbai could have its first desalination plant by 2025, officials said.
Earlier, in 2016 the BMC had cancelled a proposal for setting up a desalination plant citing high cost and lack of land. In 2007, a state government-appointed high-level committee had suggested setting up desalination plants in Mumbai. The BMC had then said that for setting up 100 MLD desalination plant, cost will be Rs 1000 crore and it requires large amounts of energy, specialised expensive infrastructure. The civic body had said that bringing water into the city from the existing network is cheaper.