The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Monday kickstarted the work for what is described as Southeast Asia’s largest desalination plant — a 400 MLD desalination plant to be executed by a joint venture led by Va Tech WABAG (WABAG) and Metito Overseas Ltd and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at a cost of ₹4,276 crore.

The new desalination plant, which is coming up at Perur along the east coast road, is expected to produce 400 million litres of potable drinking water every day. The project is expected to be completed before December 2026. This water will be distributed by Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) to the residents of South Chennai.

“With the completion of this project, Chennai will emerge as the desalination capital of India, producing over 750 million litres of desalinated water every day and out of which WABAG’s contribution will rise to an impressive 70 per cent, said Rajiv Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director, VA Tech WABAG.

The design, build, operate (DBO) project includes the entire spectrum of project development — from design and engineering to procurement, construction, installation, testing and commissioning. Post successful completion WABAG will be responsible for 20 years of operation and maintenance (O&M), according to a statement.

Preservation strategies’

“The Indian Government has been promoting various adaptation and preservation strategies to manage water resources more effectively and this project promoted by CMWSSB in co-operation with JICA will be a benchmark project for, Chennai, India and the entire Southeast Asia water scene,” said Fady Juez, Managing Director, Metito.

The world is facing significant water scarcity issues, and the need for climate-resilient, sustainable water infrastructure is critical. India in particular is a region of high stress due to various factors and securing 400 million litres of desalinated water daily, is inherently aligned with our founding principles of impact, sustainability and innovation, he added.

Water supply

Desalination plants play a vital role in meeting Chennai’s water supply requirements. The first desalination plant with a capacity of 100 MLD was commissioned in July 2020. Another desalination plant with a capacity of 100 MLD was built by WABAG at Nemmeli, with full financial assistance from the Government of India, and became operational in 2013.

Also, a 150 MLD capacity desalination plant is being built at Nemmeli to address the demand-supply gap in the water supply in Chennai City.

Chennai city’s present water demand is estimated at 1,400 MLD and the available capacity is 1,060 MLD, leaving a gap of 340 MLD. In order to bridge this gap and meet future demand, the ₹4,276 cr largest desalination project has been taken up.