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Chennai, Aug. 11

IVRCL Infrastructure & Projects Ltd has bagged a Rs 500-crore contract to set up a sea water desalination plant for the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board.

The project, expected to supply drinking water to Chennai, has been awarded on a Design, Build, Own, Operate and Transfer basis with the transfer to happen after 25 years. The project is to come up at Minjur on the northern outskirts of Chennai.

IVRCL and its technical partner M/s BEFESA Construction Y Tecnologia Ambiental S.A.U., Spain, would float a special purpose vehicle to implement the project, the company has said in a communication to the stock exchanges.

The project, one among a clutch of schemes to improve water supply to Chennai, comes after a long wait. The Government announced in the Assembly in 2003 that a Rs 1,500 crore desalination project would be set up on a BOOT basis. However, the project could not take off after a bidder went to court over tendering issues.

The desalination project is expected to contribute significantly to meeting the city's drinking water requirement of 840 million litres a day.

The city's water supply was severely strained last year after two years of drought. It may be recalled that in the Budget for 2005-06 the Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mr C. Ponnaiyan, said that there was a "real threat of evacuation faced by Chennai City last year."

The Government came out with a series of water supply schemes to augment water availability. This included the completion of the Rs 720 crore New Veeranam Project and the announcement of the Rs 300 crore Veeranam Extension Project.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 12, 2005)
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