Mumbai: The BJP has raised a red flag over the BMC’s ambitious Rs 1,600-crore desalination plant project in Mumbai. The party has asked the Union environment ministry to conduct a study and come out with a report on the environmental impact of the plant on Mumbai’s coastline.
In a recent letter to Union environment minister Bhupendra Yadav, BJP MLA Ashish Shelar pointed out that the United Nations has reported on the negative impact of desalination plants. “The UN has extensively reported on the negative impact of desalination plants on nearby marine and aquatic life and the ecosystem. Unfortunately, Mumbai’s coastline and nearby aquatic ecosystem is already endangered and severely polluted as repeatedly highlighted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in its various judgments and reports,” Shelar said in his letter.
“I urge the Union environment ministry to commission a report and present its findings in the next two months to analyse the likely environmental impact of the setting up of a desalination plant in Mumbai on its coastline and also evaluate and suggest environment-friendly alternatives to this project,” Shelar, an MLA from Bandra (West), said in his letter.
The letter, with a request for a report in two months, comes ahead of the civic polls scheduled for February next year, with the BJP pitted against the Shiv Sena, which has been ruling the BMC for close to 30 years.
In June, an MoU was signed between the BMC and an Israeli water technology company to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the desalination plant project. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who was present at the event, had said that the 200 MLD project would be a “revolutionary step” and that it was his dream of several years. If the plan goes through, it would be the state’s first desalination plant, to be set up at Manori for “augmenting Mumbai’s water supply”, though at a steep bill of Rs 1,600 crore. The aim is to make the plant operational by 2025.
As per the MoU, signed with MS IDE Water Technologies, a global leader in the field, the DPR of the project is to be be ready by May 2022. The firm’s appointment was cleared by the BMC’s standing committee in May 2021. BMC officials said that once work on the preparation of the DPR is taken up, different studies for the project, like measurements of tides, waves and currents, a bathymetry survey, a sea water quality analysis, and ecology & biodiversity studies will be pursued vigorously. Also to be pursued are the preparation of a CRZ map and CRZ clearances.