CHENNAI: The Regional Empowered Committee of Union Environment Ministry has granted stage-1 clearance for construction of a desalination plant inside Koonimedu forest area in Villupuram district.
The decision was taken at a recently held meeting in Chennai. Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD) will construct the plant in an area of 16 hectares.
Official documents available with Express shows it’s a plant with a capacity of 72.06 million litres per day (MLD) to cater to drinking water needs of 692 villages as well as the needs of the industries of nearby SIPCOT area.
Initially, the committee had deferred the project raising environmental concerns over several aspects, including tree felling, overestimation of land required for the project and the affect of the project on surrounding traditional fishing hamlets. Besides, the committee also asked TWAD Board to give an undertaking that the desalinated water will be utilised for drinking water purpose only.
However, TWAD Board officials submitted before the committee that as per G.O. dated January 3, 2011, the State government has permitted it to earmark 10 per cent of the desalinated water for industrial/ commercial needs. However, only 3.30 MLD of the total 72.06 MLD will be routed for SIPCOT, Tindivanam, which is only 4.80 per cent of the plant’s total capacity.
“The site location has been finalised after conducting oceanographic study and thorough assessment and careful environmental evaluation by a Coastal Regulation Zone project expert and TN Water Investment Company.
The site has been selected in a such a way to avoid disturbance to the existing fishing communities/hamlets,” official said. As per TWAD Board’s own submission, a total of 2,093 fully-grown trees will be felled. To compensate the forest cover loss, twice its extent, 32.47 hectares, has already been identified