A desalination plant being built exclusively for providing water to industries including the Dahej PCPIR (Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region) in Bharuch is expected to be commissioned by end of March 2022. This plant will help reduce the dependence on water from river Narmada.
“One of the biggest desalination plants exclusively for industrial purposes will be commissioned in Dahej in three months time, i.e by end of March 2022. This is being built on a capital contribution model from the industries. This will provide the water security for industries, especially during the summers. The desalinated water will fill the gap,” M Thennarasan, vice-chairman and managing director of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) said about the 100 million litres per day (MLD) capacity plant that is being built by L&T Construction and UAE-based Tecton Engineering and Construction LLC at a cost of Rs 1000 crore.
Apart from the shortage of water during summer season, water in Narmada river near Bharuch tends to get saline as it nears the estuary. During high tides, the sea water enters the river and reaches up to Bharuch city. This salinity ingress, compounded by reduced flow of water in the river – after the Sardar Sarovar dam built upstream reached its maximum height a few years ago – has spoiled the quality of fresh water flowing in Narmada downstream.
Dahej PCPIR, which is spread over 450 square kilometres, currently has a water requirement of 454 MLD, former chief minister Vijay Rupani had said while laying the foundation stone of this desalination plant in November 2019.
Most of it is satiated through Narmada. Once the desalination plant becomes functional, almost one-fourth of the industries requirement will be met through this plant for which GIDC has allocated land in Dahej-2 estate within the Dahej PCPIR.
The GIDC which has two parcels of land within Dahej PCPIR has sold out most of the land. “The area occupied by GIDC in Dahej PCPIR is 110 square kilometers. Of the total area, 97 per cent has already been sold out. Roughly around 1500 units have taken up space within the GIDC and roughly 300 of them are functional. Another 600 are in various stages of construction,” Thennarasan said.
About 80 per cent of units that have taken space within the GIDC are chemical units. Apart from the desalination plant in Dahej, Gujarat government has proposed to construct seven more desalination plants including those at Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Gir Somnath, Bhavnagar and Kutch.
“There is a similar demand (for desalination plant) from industries in Kutch. The feasibility studies are yet to be done,” Thennarasan added.
The cost of the water from these desalination plants has been a touchy issue for the state government. In March 2020, the government had told the Gujarat Assembly that Rs 45 will be charged per 1000 litres of water from the 30 MLD desalination plant in Gir Somnath district which is being set up by Shapoorji Pallonji and US-based Aquatech System Asia Pvt Ltd. There will be a three per cent annual rise in the cost of water from this plant.