Mangaluru: As the district has been facing acute shortage of drinking water in the recent years, setting up of desalination plant looks like an alternative source of water. Though this plant requires huge amount of money, The Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), the state’s only refinery has already started working on these lines and the plant will come up at an estimated cost of Rs 620 crore. If a private company is working to reduce its dependence on fresh water by setting up desalination plant, why can't the government do the same to meet the drinking water needs of the people, question many.
It is the basic question of every individual. Desalination is a process that takes away mineral components from saline water. While many say that government setting up desalination plant for drinking water is not feasible considering the cost involved, experts feel that private players should not be allowed to deal with the drinking water needs of the people as it would lead to commercialisation of water.
Those supporting the desalination set up say that one must not look at the cost involved but should gauge the benefits that it can reap.
From the past few years, Mangaluru has been witnessing drought-like situations, due to which the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) has resorted to rationing of water. Sidelining all other needs, the government needs to focus on drinking water issues as these issues have become a recurring problem.
"Thumbe vented dam is the lifeline of Mangaluru and the residents of Mangaluru entirely depend upon this vented dam. We can depend on conventional sources of water if there is adequate rain. But with rainfall taking a nosedive it is imperative for us to look at alternative source for drinking water, including setting up of desalination plant," says P C Hashir, an active member of Civil Engineers Association.
“We should not think about the money, being spent upon desalination plant. As water cannot be substitutable to any other thing, we should not bother about the cost of the project. The government should be ready to spend upon this project, irrespective of the amount. It is one-time capital cost and it will definitely set right many of our problems. Providing drinking water to the people should not be considered as a business and the motive behind this project must be service to the people,” he says.
Hashir, who is also an avid traveller points out that almost all Gulf countries are depending upon desalination plants to meet their drinking water needs. "Population of Mangaluru is much lesser than any of those Middle Eastern countries that have desalination plant in place. It is surely a workable plan, " feels Hashir.
Dakshina Kannada district unit of Civil Engineers Association is now planning to approach government with a proper plan of setting up of desalination plant for Mangaluru and it intends to insist government to take up this project.
Meanwhile, Environmentalist Dinesh Holla feels that the government should have taken up this water desalination project much earlier.
“Instead of wasting money on other projects, government should spend money upon this project. The projects like river diversion, installing pipeline through western ghats to provide water to the parched areas, constructing dam to lift water among other projects paves way for the negative impact upon the nature. Instead of that, government should take up this project, which doesn't cause any harm to nature," Holla adds.
Educationist and social activist M G Hegde, who himself set up a wastewater treatment plant in his own house told Newskarnataka.com that government should not allow any private players to deal with the drinking water needs of the people. Providing basic needs to the people is the responsibility of government itself.
"If industries and corporate giants take up this project it will lead to massive commercialisation of drinking water. Government must deal with it so that even the poor is assured of his right to clean drinking water, " he says.
Related article: Solving drinking water problems with desalination plants
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