Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Jun 04, 2002
Industry & Economy
Kerala: Vypeen to get desalination plant
Sajeev Kumar V.
A common scene at Vypeen island which has been plagued by drinking water scarcity for a long time.
KOCHI, June 3
THE first ever desalination plant in the State is likely to be set up to make drinking water available for the rural population in nearby Vypeen island, who have been facing acute potable water shortage for a long time.
A project report prepared by the Ernakulam District Administration has recommended the setting up of a 10-lakh-litre/day SWRO (salt water reverse osmosis) plant in the island.
The total project cost is estimated at Rs 14.34 crore and it is proposed to submit a proposal for financing from the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission, which has already funded such programmes in other States.
The operating cost for this plant will have to be borne by the consumers in the respective panchayats, which will decide the consumer mix.
This demonstration plant would give required expertise to Kerala Water Authority (KWA) for meeting future needs from a resource which is available in plenty but remains unexploited.
Since reverse osmosis (RO) is a sophisticated technology, it is proposed to involve professional institutions for the functioning of the project.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and the Centre for Marine Analytical Reference and Standards (C-Mars) will be in charge of site selection, design, quality of assurance of intake, etc.
Regarding co-ordination and management, the report said that it would be appropriate to involve agencies such as the water authority and Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency.
RO has been accepted as an economically attractive proposition for getting potable water from seawater as well as brackish water.
Desalination plants have been operating in many parts of the world, especially the Gulf.
In India, around 30 plants of smaller and medium capacity and five of larger capacities are in operation.
In Tamil Nadu, as many as 11 such plants with capacities ranging from 20,000 litres a day to 3.8 million a day are operating successfully, the report said.
In the initial phase, operations and maintenance would be done by BHEL on an annual maintenance contract basis.
BHEL and C-Mars would give necessary training to the local people in operation and maintenance.
Subsequently, the plant operation could be taken over by the local panchayat, which would be the plant's custodian.
The current drinking water scenario in Vypeen island, surrounded by the Arabian Sea, Vembanad Lake and Azhikode backwaters, is so grave that it was necessary to look for a permanent solution for the water needs of the islanders.
Part of the need is met by lorries and barges, mainly from the Greater Cochin area, for which the State shells out Rs 2.04 crore every year. This figure is likely to escalate in a couple of years and reach Rs 3 crore.
Considering the socio-economic conditions and the resources available, adequate quantity of water could be supplied through cans or tanks in various parts of the panchayats.
Water for domestic purpose could be supplied through the existing KWA distribution network by blending treated water with pre-treated water or other water sources locally available.
Regarding the water scenario in the State, the report said that though Kerala receives copious rainfall annually, many areas face water scarcity.
This is due to the higher surface runoff and lower ground water recharge, compared to even States like Rajastan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The per capita availability of water is also decreasing due to the increasing population. In these circumstances, there is a need to look at alternatives apart from conservation, recycling of water, etc.
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