*The news story published in The Times of India, quoting CPPR Chairman, Dr. D. Dhanuraj’s comment on how desalination plants are capital intensive and we will have to mobilize huge funds for setting up such plants.

(Image source: The Times of India)

KOCHI: At a time when Kochi and its suburbs are facing water shortage, the proposal to set up desalination plants along the coastlines of the district has reached nowhere.

Two years ago, the state government had announced that it would seriously consider the setting up of desalination plants along the coastlines as a measure to mitigate drought.

Experts closely associated with the water resource department said that setting up of decentralised water treatment plants, which cater to the needs of 200 to 500 families, would help address water shortage in the coastal belt.

Desalination plants falling in the range of 0.1 million litres per day (MLD) to 20 MLD can be considered to alleviate water shortage.

“Instead of planning largescale centralized schemes, small projects which cater to the needs of local communities should come up. Desalination plants are required in areas such as Fort Kochi and Vypeen where surface water has been polluted with salt water intrusion. Also, the quantity and quality of groundwater have also declined over the years. Advanced reverse osmosis technology could be used in these plants,” said a limnologist in the city.

He said that agencies like Kerala Water Authority (KWA) was not keen about implementing these projects as it wouldn’t provide the scope for receiving kickbacks and commissions.

As water level in many rivers continue to deplete in summer, debates on whether to continue dependence on waterbodies and monsoon would remain a suitable option.

He said that rivers have started to shrink. Bringing water from far away rivers through pipelines create issues such as transmission loss, leakage, misuse, overuse and theft.

“Decentralised schemes would help tackle such issues,” he added.

Meanwhile, there are others who are sceptical about the prospectus of desalination plants.

“These are capital intensive and we will have to mobilize huge funds for setting up such plants. It requires more investment than that is required for recycling and reusing water. The output of desalination plants is comparatively less,” said chairman of city-based think tank Centre for Public Policy Research D Dhanuraj.

Issues like disposal of brine, which is produced in desalination plants while processing seawater, needs to be addressed. When it comes to water, private investors are also not keen to pump in money. This is mainly because water is perceived as a resource which comes free.

*This news story can be also read at The Times of India

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