Kutch desalination plant yet to take off

June 27th, 2008 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, June 27 (IANS) The Gujarat government and the Federation of Kutch Industries Association (FOKIA) have formed a joint venture distribute water for industries in Kutch. The irony is, there is no water to distribute.

Called the Kutch Water Distribution Co., the new body is a special purpose vehicle that will draw water from a proposed desalination plant, and distribute it to the industries through a pipeline.

But the Rs.7-billion plant, the first of its kind in the state, is yet to take off.

An official at the state-owned Gujarat Water Infrastructure Ltd, the agency entrusted with erecting the desalination plant, said the project is still at the “tendering” stage.

The project will take two years to implement from the date of finalization of tender, the official added.

The plant will have a capacity to daily convert 150 million liters of seawater to usable water for the industry.

FOKIA general secretary Nimish Phadke declined to give details of the status of the project, but government officials said the state administration was yet to finalise the plant location.

This means floating of tenders inviting expression of interest will have to wait till a site had been identified.

It is estimated that industries in Kutch will need 200 million liters of water daily. Currently, these units source water from the Narmada dam, with many drawing groundwater.

In the Narmada Master Plan, allocation for industries in Kutch was pegged at 45 million liters a day, but in 2006, the actual volume was crossed 61 million liters.

This drew flak from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for Gujarat, which said the extra allocation would reduce water supply for domestic use, and thus “adversely affect the drinking water requirements of people of Kutch district by the year 2021″.

Kutch has about 23 highly water-intensive industries, including large cement, chemical, steel, thermal power and caustic soda plants. Now, there are almost 150 manufacturing units, with a slew of projects awaiting clearance.

And this is what worries FOKIA. Phadke said the new industrial projects and the upcoming Mundra SEZ, which alone is estimated to need six million liters a day, will only make the problem more acute.

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