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Chennai Desalination: Necessity & Alternatives



  Aug 31, 2023

Chennai Desalination Plant:Need and Alternatives


Q: What is the purpose of the fourth desalination plant in Chennai?

The fourth desalination plant in Chennai, located in Perur on East Coast Road, aims to convert seawater into drinking water. It is intended to cater to the water supply needs of areas falling under Tambaram Corporation, Greater Chennai Corporation, and 20 village panchayats near the city, serving a population of around 22.67 lakh people.
 

Q: Who is overseeing the construction of the desalination plant?

The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) is responsible for building the desalination plant in Perur. The project is being funded with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
 

Q: What are the concerns raised by environmentalists about the project?

Environmentalists have questioned the environmental impact and necessity of the new desalination plant. They argue that the plant will consume a substantial amount of energy, requiring about 100 megawatts of power to desalinate water. They also highlight the daily expenditure involved in operating the plant. Some experts suggest that rather than building a new desalination plant, efforts should be focused on rejuvenating and increasing the capacity of existing water bodies in the city to better store and use rainwater.
 

Q: How have experts suggested addressing Chennai's water needs instead?

Environmental experts propose an alternative approach, which involves rejuvenating and expanding the capacity of the city's existing water bodies to effectively collect and store rainwater. They believe that by utilizing just 2 percent of the rainwater Chennai receives, the city's water needs can be met. This alternative method emphasizes maximizing the use of rainwater as a sustainable solution.
 

Q: How have residents and organizations responded to the new desalination plant?

Some residents in the OMR region, who have long depended on private water tankers, express skepticism about whether the new plant will cater to their needs. They highlight the challenges they have faced with water supply in the past. Organizations like the Federation of OMR Residents Associations (FOMRRA) question the distribution of water from existing desalination plants, raising concerns about accessibility.
 

Q: How does the new plant fit into Chennai's existing desalination initiatives?

Chennai already has two operational desalination plants, one about to be inaugurated, and the foundation stone laid for the fourth plant. These plants are part of the DMK government's initiatives to address the city's water needs. The existing plants have different capacities and serve specific regions of Chennai.
 

Q: What are the environmental implications of the new desalination plant?

Critics of the new desalination plant point out potential negative environmental consequences. They raise concerns about its energy consumption, emissions from fossil fuel-based energy sources, and its impact on the coastal ecosystem. The process of releasing brine with a high level of dissolved solids back into the sea is highlighted as a potential threat to marine life and coastal ecosystems.
 

Q: What are the alternatives proposed by experts to address water scarcity?

Environmental experts advocate for prioritizing rainwater harvesting and the expansion of water bodies' capacity as viable alternatives to building more desalination plants. They emphasize the need to make better use of the ample rainfall Chennai receives to meet its water requirements sustainably.
 

Q: How does the government respond to these concerns?

The government's perspective on the concerns raised by environmentalists is not fully detailed in the article. However, it is mentioned that the government has been engaging with experts and collecting information to address water requirements. The effectiveness and execution of the government's plans remain to be seen.
 

Q: How do residents view the government's promise of improved water supply?

Residents are adopting a cautious stance and await the execution of the government's plans. They express the sentiment that the actual improvement in water supply will be a key indicator of the government's commitment to its promises.


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