Come September Chennai's residents will have a new source of drinking water, a 100-million litre a day desalination plant that will produce fresh water from sea water.

The Rs 1,000-crore plant being set up by VA Tech Wabag for the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, the public sector water utility, achieved an important milestone on April 16 when a km-long, 1.6-metre pipeline was launched into the sea to take in over 300 million litres of sea water a day.

For VA Tech Wabag and the water business in India this is a major development, says Mr Rajiv Mittal, Managing Director, VA Tech Wabag.

It is the largest desalination plant in India and the largest contract for the company.

OTHERS Exploring options

This is the first time a water utility is putting up the plant directly and this project is being watched by many coastal State Governments that are exploring options of setting up a desalination plant. States such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are water starved and considering desalination as an option.

VA Tech Wabag, the Chennai-based multinational player in water and waste water management, bagged the contract to set up the desalination plant and operate and maintain it for seven years after completion.

Mega project

Work on the project started early in 2010 and once implemented, in three months' time, it will put the company among the few with a capacity to handle mega projects.

Also, over the next seven years the company will handle the operation and maintenance which represents a steady revenue of about Rs 70 crore a year.

VA Tech Wabag, listed on the stock exchanges BSE and NSE, is collaborating with IDE Technologies of Israel to set up the project funded by the Government of India. The facility is coming up about 50 km south Chennai on the East Coast Road.

This is the second desalination plant to supply water to the city with the first in operation at Minjur to the North of Chennai as a private sector project on design-build-own-operate-transfer basis by IVRCL, Hyderabad.

(This article was published on April 18, 2012)
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