Thursday, October 08, 2009
It was orginally meant to be a Pongal gift for the city's residents, and later a Tamil New Year gift. However, it is almost Diwali and the
gift is not ready yet. The 100 MLD Minjur desalination plant has been delayed by "unfavourable sea conditions."
Although about 95% of the project work has been completed, the remaining marine work such as laying of the inlet pipeline to draw seawater and the outlet pipeline to discharge used water into the sea has been delayed. The work, scheduled to be completed by January 2009, was badly hit by Cyclone Nisha that caused widespread destruction along the Tamil Nadu last October. Completion was first re-scheduled for April and then to October.
"The plant will be delayed as the condition of the sea is not favourable for laying pipes. The company (Chennai Water Desalination Limited) has to look for a good weather window' for pipe layingcalmness of the sea and height of waves have to be taken into consideration. CWDL officers said it was not a good time to carry out pipe laying. Only after discussions with the company will we know when work will be completed," said a government source.
IVRCL sources, however, said that all onshore work had been completed and that the plant was already producing 60 MLD of potable water in trial runs. The water was being let into the sea again. An alternative system had been put in place instead of the proposed method of laying pipelines in the sea, they added.
According to a source, the seabed would be dredged using a machine and the pipes would be allowed to float on water. "Once the water starts entering the pipes, they will start sinking. They will then be lowered into the space that has been dug."
The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) had given the task of executing the Minjur plant on a DBOOT (design, build, own, operate and transfer) basis to CWDL, launched by the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Infrastructures and Projects Ltd as a consortium with Befesa Constuccion Technologia Ambiental Ltd, Spain.
Based on the bulk water purchase agreement entered into with CWDL, CMWSSB would purchase desalinated water at a cost of Rs 48.66 a kilolitre and supply to industries at a rate of Rs 60 per kilolitre.
The site of the Rs 510-crore plant lies 200 metres from the coast, near Kattupalli in Minjur, 35 km from Chennai. A 600-metre pipeline of 1600 mm diameter, to be laid below the seabed, will connect the sea and the plant. Sea water would be drawn using pumps for desalination.
Of the five racks that have a capacity of producing 20 MLD of potable water each, three have been commissioned and are operational. About 10 pumps have been installed near the shore as a temporary arrangement to draw seawater. "This is because marine work has not been completed," sources said.
CMWSSB is currently dependent on groundwater and surface water resources to meet the city's demand. The desalination plant would mostly cater to the water requirements of industry, including the North Chennai Thermal Power Plant, Ennore Port Trust and the proposed special economic zone to come up in north Chennai. During drought, the water would be supplied to the public, CMWSSB officials said.
Despite a poor monsoon through the season, October - officially considered the post-monsoon month in the city - has already recorded excessive rainfall, nearly two times the month's normal expected amount.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday stated that the average normal expected during October is only 64.9 mm in Colaba and 62.9 mm in Santacruz. This year, however, the month has already received 150.4 mm and 222.3 mm rainfall respectively in the two stations.
"The official monsoon season, from June 1 to September 30, ended with a severe deficit of more than 250 mm. We are now calculating an excess of 122.8 mm and 198.5 mm in Colaba and Santacruz. And the showers have not waned yet. We are expecting a few spells of thundershowers and isolated rainfall in the next few days," said IMD director K Sathidevi.
Such intensive activities are unusual in October. A record of the month's rainfall in the city showed that Colaba experienced such extreme showers only once in the past 10 years - in 2006, when the month's total climbed to 246 mm. In Santacruz, heavy October rains were recoded twice - once in 1999 at 222 mm and again in 2006 at 238.6 mm. MET data show that Santacruz has seen 111.1 mm rainfall in just 24 hours, ending Tuesday morning.
Sathidevi said, "Not just Mumbai, most parts of the state have experienced increased activities over the past week, crossing the deficit line. However, we have officially ended the monsoon month with a deficit; this is now termed as the post-monsoon period." Across the state, heavy rainfall was recorded in Karjat - 25 cm; Matheran, Kalyan, Bhiwandi, and Ulhasnagar - 21 cm each; Ambernath - 19 cm; Panvel, Dharavi - 15 cm each, on Tuesday. Good showers were recorded on the ghats: Lonavala - 30 cm, Walvan - 24 cm, Shirota -12 cm, Wangaon and Dungerwadi - 9 cm each. Lakes like Tulsi received 8 cm, Vihar and Bhatsa - 7 cm each, Tansa - 6 cm, Vaitarna - 5 cm and Upper Vaitarna - 3 cm.
Meanwhile, the relative humidity rose to 95 per cent on Tuesday. The temperatures remained low at 26.7 °C and 27 °C maximum and 23.1 °C and 22.4 °C minimum in Colaba and Santacruz.
Get ready to shell out more for Diwali delight this year. For, firecrackers will be costlier.
With large swathes of Andhra Pradesh being inundated following incessant rain and floods, heavy vehicles carrying consignment of crackers are stuck on their way to Jharkhand and Bihar.
These trucks come from Shivakashi in Tamil Nadu and Kanyakumari. Besides firecrackers, many also ferry perishable items such as eggs, fish, fruits and onions.
According to sources, consignments of firecrackers usually start coming to the steel city as early as August. Till now, about 50 per cent of crackers have already reached the city, but the bulk order is yet to arrive.
"Crackers are transported via road and not by train. But because of the floods, a number of trucks coming via Andhra Pradesh are stuck on the road," a trader said.
Raju Barwalia, a whole-seller, added: "An imbalance in the demand-supply ratio will result if the trucks do not reach Jamshedpur on time. This will definitely lead to a price hike."
The inclement weather only worsens matters. Both traders and revellers are praying for a dry Diwali so that celebrations are not marred.
"Generally, Diwali falls in November, when monsoon is already over. But due to late arrival of rains this year and an early Diwali, it seems that the weather will continue to play spoilsport," said another cracker dealer Prakash Kumar.
The trader expressed fears that retailers may not purchase crackers from them if it rains in Diwali. "We are keeping our fingers crossed. A wet Diwali will severely affect our business," Kumar added.
"Trading in crackers is like gambling. On the one hand, a large consignment of crackers is held up in Andhra Pradesh, triggering fears that prices of firecrackers will go up. On the other hand, the inclement weather threatens to affect our sales. We don't know what to do," rued another trader.
The causative upper air cyclonic circulation over east Uttar Pradesh and neighbourhood persisted, an update from India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The rain activity in varying intensity over east and northeast India is slated to continue until October 14 as per forecast update available from the US National Centres for Environmental Prediction (NCEP).
But scattered shower activity over the northwest (except Rajasthan) is likely to continue during the following week as well (October 15 to 23), the NCEP said. This could be attributed to residual moisture lingering in the region after a busy wet session.
The Bay of Bengal is also shown to be in an `expectant situation' during this week presumably from the continuing churn, though weaker than on earlier occasions, in the west Pacific/South China Sea.
An odd rain pulse is forecast to empty its contents over the southeast coast, but, interestingly, scattered showers are also predicted for the west coast and adjoining south peninsula from westerly flows.
While interacting with Business Line on Wednesday, Dr Jing-Jia Luo, Senior Scientist with the Climate Variation Predictability and Applicability Research Programme at the Research Institute for Global Change, Tokyo, mentioned about offices in the metropolis being evacuated in view of approaching Typhoon Melor.
Asked how he could explain the strong typhoon season in the Pacific in the face of an El Nino, he said that he was not sure about El Nino influence on typhoons in the west Pacific.
"Some studies have suggested that El Nino might cause fewer typhoons due to high surface pressure anomaly in the west Pacific. But the number of typhoons does not change year-to-year as much as that in the Atlantic," he said.
Meanwhile, the IMD has forecast fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over east Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the next 24 hours.
Fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy falls is also likely over West Bengal, Sikkim and the Northeastern States during the next two days.
But weather is likely to remain mainly dry over northwest and adjoining central India during the next five days, the IMD said.
Satellite pictures on Wednesday showed convective clouds over parts of southeast Bay of Bengal, south Andaman Sea, north Chhattisgarh, east Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam.
The three days ending October 12 would see scattered rainfall over the Northeastern States and extreme south peninsular India.
LIGHT IN SOUTH
In the south, isolated rainfall was reported from a few places over coastal Karnataka during the 24 hours ending Wednesday morning, an update from the Chennai Met Centre said.
Isolated rainfall occurred over Tamil Nadu, interior Karnataka, coastal Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala. Dry weather prevailed over Rayalaseema and Lakshadweep.
Forecast for the next two days said that rain or thundershowers is likely to occur at a few places over coastal Karnataka, Kerala and north coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Isolated rain or thundershowers have been forecast over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, interior Karnataka, Lakshadweep, south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Rayalaseema.