Desalination Plant

Desalination project halted for want of land

By Jamil Khan | KARACHI

ONE of the major desalination plants of the city seems a distant dream for the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) and the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), as the 200 million dollar project, to be completed by a Norwegian firm, is yet to be initiated.
The delay is due to the Sindh government’s failure to hand over the proposed 100-acre piece of land, Daily Times learnt on Wednesday. The KWSB signed an agreement with the local branch of a Norwegian firm, Aqualyng Karachi (Pvt) Limited (AKPL) on August 23, 2007, after inking a Memorandum of Understanding on April 27, 2007.
AKPL was assigned the task of constructing the plant, which will provide 25 million gallons of water daily, on a build, own and operate basis, near Hawkesbay, 30 kilometers west of Karachi. The project was to be completed in two phases over a period of two years and the company was to set up an exclusive power generation plant to produce the 46 MW of electricity required to run the plant.
Around five months ago, the AKPL submitted the environmental impact assessment report and held discussions with experts of the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and all other stakeholders, including citizens. The desalination plant is designed to remove salt and other minerals from saline water, to obtain freshwater suitable for domestic, irrigational or industrial use.
According to the report, the Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology will be employed for desalination, in which the semi-permeable membranes act like filters, allowing water molecules to pass through but preventing impurities. Membranes used in reverse osmosis are typically made out of polyamide, chosen primarily for its permeability to water and relative impermeability to various dissolved impurities, including salt ions and other small molecules, that are difficult to filter otherwise.
In the public hearing held on May 10, a number of reservations were raised by the stakeholders such as issues of land ownership, the lack of details of the agreement signed by KWSB, incomplete information on the project and the fact that the project will increase the salinity of sea water along the shoreline and other surrounding areas. The then SEPA Director General had directed to form a committee to work towards resolution of the issues.
Although, AKPL officials were repeatedly, they were not available. However, KWSB sources told Daily Times that the project could not be started unless the issue regarding ownership of the land is resolved. The sources added that City Nazim Mustafa Kamal, who is also chairman of KWSB, had written to the Sindh government on numerous occasions but there had been no progress yet.
KWSB Electrical and Mechanical Chief Engineer also confirmed the issue regarding ownership of the land and said that the utility was trying its level best to initiate work on this crucial project as soon as possible. It is worth mentioning that about 20 villages, which are deprived of all basic facilities such as potable water, sewerage, roads, education, health, electricity and others, surround the area proposed for the desalination plant.
The total number of households in the villages was reported to be around 2,943, with an estimated population of 23,544. Only 40 percent of the villages have an electricity supply but there was no natural gas supply and the primary source of fuel for the villages was wood, mostly twigs and branches collected from the bushes and plants that are part of the natural vegetation of the area.
However, representatives of AKPL had, during the public hearing, assured that the people from the surrounding areas will be provided all possible support and services, including job opportunities.
-Published in Daily Times | Oct 9, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on October 9, 2008.

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