Powai, sea may help beat water crisis | india | Hindustan Times
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Powai, sea may help beat water crisis

Alarmed by the plummeting levels of lakes that supply water to Mumbai, the state government is thinking of using desalinated seawater for domestic use, report Dharmendra Jore & Sujit Mahamulkar.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2009 00:59 IST

Alarmed by the plummeting levels of lakes that supply water to Mumbai, the state government is thinking of using desalinated seawater for domestic use. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), meanwhile, has decided to treat and supply water from Powai lake for drinking.

Water from the lake, built during the British Raj, has not been used for drinking since the early ’90s as it was highly polluted.

The idea to desalinate seawater was approved in principle at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. After the proposal was mooted by Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan directed authorities to study its feasibility and work on a pilot project.

Bhujbal reasoned that since desalination projects in Chennai and several Middle Eastern countries were running successfully and economically, the government should try a similar project in Mumbai. However, a senior minister belonging to Bhujbal’s party, the Nationalist Congress Party, feared that the cost of treating Mumbai’s polluted seawater would be enormous.

Bhujbal countered that if the state could spend thousands of crores on carrying water to the city through 140 km of pipelines from dams in neighbouring Thane, it could think seriously about desalination. “The firms concerned have told me that the cost of desalination is around 4.5 paise per litre,” he said.

“If this works, Mumbai will not have to depend on water from other districts. It could be the answer to our water woes,” Bhujbal told Hindustan Times later.

As for Powai, its water is used by industries. Civic officials said they were yet to decide how much water could be taken from the lake.

“If we can treat this water, it can be used for Mumbai for a couple of days. However, it can bring only a little relief,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

The BMC on Monday announced a 30 per cent water cut as the lakes are not receiving enough rain.

Mumbai receives 3,300 million litres per day from six lakes — Tansa, Vaitarna, Vihar, Tulsi, Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa. The water cuts will stay till the water levels in these lakes normalise. The last time Mumbai faced a severe water shortage was in 1992.

As of Wednesday, levels in all lakes, except Bhatsa, were precariously close to their least drawable levels.