Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Saturday inaugurated a desalination plant at Nemmeli near Chennai. The new desalination plant worth ₹1,517 crore, which will have a capacity of 150 MLD (million litres per day), is expected to serve the drinking water needs of about 9 lakh residents in several locations of Chennai.

The water produced from the new desalination plant, which has been implemented under the AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation scheme) project and financial assistance from KfW (German Development Bank), will be supplied to the southern parts of Chennai Metropolitan Area viz. Velachery, Alandur, St.Thomas Mount, Tambaram, Medavakkam, Kovilambakkam, Nanmangalam, Keezhlkattalai, Moovarasampettai, Sholinganallur, Ullagaram, Puzhuthivakkam, Madipakkam and IT corridor areas benefiting nearly 9 lakh people.

Even as other States, including those that have coastal areas, are still evaluating desalination projects , Tamil Nadu has been at the forefront of building desalination units, that have helped address drinking water shortage issues.  

Dependent on monsoon

There are no perennial water sources for Chennai and the city’s water sources are dependent on monsoon. Further, urbanisation of the surrounding areas and the rapid growth of the industries have led to a drastic increase in demand for water, exerting pressure on scarce water resources. Hence, as a part of drought-proofing measures and to ensure water security in the city over the long term, the successive State Government has invested in desalination plants.

The first desalination plant with a capacity of 100 MLD was commissioned at Minjur in 2010. It has been serving the drinking water needs of about 10 lakh residents in the northern part of Chennai. Another desalination plant with a capacity of 100 MLD, constructed with full financial assistance from the Indian Government, was commissioned at Nemmeli in 2013. This is serving about 9 lakh residents in the city.

The State government is also implementing one of the largest desalination projects in Southeast Asia — a 400 MLD (million litres a day) desalination plant at a cost of ₹4,276 crore at Perur near Chennai. This plant is expected to be commissioned by December 2026 and 23 lakh residents will be served through this project.

Chennai city’s present water demand was estimated at 1,400 MLD last year and the available capacity is 1,060 MLD, leaving a gap of 340 MLD. The Nemmeli project is expected to help bridge this gap and also meet future demand.