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Saudi to set up desalination units in India

The company has tied up with Hyderabad-based Pallava Water and Power to set up the first joint venture.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2006 12:04 IST

Saudi Arabia's Bushnak Group is forming joint ventures with Indian project developers to help set up desalination units, the first of which is slated to come up in Pondicherry by 2007.

The company has tied up with Hyderabad-based Pallava Water and Power to set up the first joint venture, which plans to undertake three desalination projects in southern India.

"We have set up the first joint venture, Bushnak-Pallava Water Services. In the first phase it will invest $80 million over the next three to four years," Adil A Bushnak, chairman of Bushnak Group, told a news agency.

"We are planning desalination units in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka besides Pondicherry (in southern India). The concept is ready and we are all set to start work," he said.

The first project for desalination of sea water is planned at Karaikal in Pondicherry and will be ready in 2007.

Although the exact locations are still to be finalised, the second desalination project is planned in south Chennai for completion by December 2007 followed by another one in Visakhapatnam by mid-2008.

A medium-sized high-tech engineering company, the Bushnak Group has had links with India for over two decades. It has provided technical support for the Chennai Petroleum Corp and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) among others.

"We were pioneers who helped develop desalination technology in the private sector in Saudi Arabia. Now we are trying to do the same in India," Bushnak said.

"We are also working in the United Arab Emirates in advisory capacity. We will provide technical backing at Dubai Technology Park to help with the training."

In India, the company is seeking more 50:50 joint ventures and is already in talks with Gulf banks to help provide funding. The objective is to have liquidity to undertake infrastructure projects, for industrial or drinking water production or power generation.

In the case of the Karaikal desalination plant, the $8 million investment is proposed to set up a five million litres per day capacity plant, expandable to 10 million litres. It would produce water for industrial use.

"We would be using Saudi technology with our knowledge of developing projects using local material in the construction and plant enrichment. Only special components would be imported," said BVS Lakshmi, managing director of Pallava Water and Power, who will be looking after the operations of the joint venture.

The joint venture partners are working on energy recovery devices as well as greater automation to bring down the desalination cost.

"If there is a market, we would like to help generate both water and power. Our plan is to set up separate joint ventures that would focus on specific locations or projects," said Bushnak.

Also a leading civil society representative in Saudi Arabia, Bushnak was part of the business delegation that was held week along with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

First Published: Jan 29, 2006 09:40 IST