Mumbai rejects desalination

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – the governing council for greater Mumbai - has turned down a proposal to set up desalination plants on the grounds of cost of the water produced and lack of land.

A state government-appointed, high-level committee recommended setting up two 100 Ml/d pilot desalination plants – one for the city, to be set up by the BMC, and another for suburbs and metropolitan areas. However, the city and suburbs, and Mumbai Port Trust rejected the proposal saying the 25 acres of coastal land required for the project was not available.

The BMC had decided to seek help from private investors in raising the Rs 1,000 crore (US$ 147.7 million) cost of each desalination plant. But it pulled out also claiming that available land was inadequate and the cost of water would be prohibitive.

“As water resources are available within 100 -150 km of the city, it’s convenient and less costly to bring water from them by laying pipelines,” said a BMC official.

The official estimated the cost of desalinated water at Rs 70 (US$ 1.03) for 1,000 litres, while the BMC supplies residential users at Rs 4.32 (US$ 0,06) per 1,000 litres. Desalinated water would be too expensive for most householders, the official added.