ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Desalination in Chennai

An analysis of Tamil Nadu's decision to construct a 100 million litres a day seawater desalination plant to tackle Chennai's water crisis. But this energy-intensive technology would be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and uncontrolled brine discharges. It will also encourage social and environmental dumping. Ultimately, the issue is the purpose to be served by the desalination plant and who it will primarily (not) benefit.

What About the Poor and the Environment?

I n 1961, US president John F Kennedy noted that if humanity could find an inexpensive way to get fresh water from the oceans, that achievement would dwarf any other scientific accomplishment. Desalination technology embodies this hope, and has been increasingly perceived over the past 30 years as a feasible solution to meet growing freshwater demands. Reverse osmosis (RO) technologies in particular are increasingly popular. Daily production capacity in the 17,350 desalination plants operating worldwide has grown to 37 million cubic metres, supplying about 160 million people. However, the desalination technology is adopted primarily in the water-poor and energyrich nations of the Persian-Arabian Gulf, where it accounts for 40 per cent of the municipal and industrial water used.

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