NEW DELHI — Japan’s development aid agency will extend support for the construction of a seawater desalination plant in India, the South Asian country’s first such facility financed by Japan, to tackle water scarcity in a state with a large number of Japanese firms operating.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency, better known as JICA, signed an agreement this week with the Indian government to provide an official development assistance loan of 30 billion yen ($281 million) for the plant, with a capacity of 400 million liters per day, and related water supply facilities in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
In Chennai, the state capital, and its vicinity, “the project aims to provide a safe and reliable water supply to local residents and enhance the economic growth and investment climate,” Takema Sakamoto, chief representative of JICA’s India office, said during a signing ceremony in Tokyo on Monday.
This will be the first time for the agency to finance the construction of such a plant in Asia’s third-largest economy, according to Sakamoto.
The average water supply in the Chennai metropolitan area totaled around 620 million liters per day, falling short of its daily demand of 850 million liters in 2015. The capital’s population is forecast to continue growing from around 8.9 million in 2011 to over 15 million in 2035, according to JICA.
The southern state is currently locked in a dispute over sharing of Cauvery River water with its northern neighbor Karnataka. The water sharing of the inter-state basin, which originates in Karnataka, has long been the source of a serious conflict between the two states.
Tamil Nadu has 205 Japanese companies operating in the state, the second-largest number after 341 in the northern state of Haryana as of October 2016, according to the Embassy of Japan in India.
Since 1995, JICA has provided official loans amounting to over 110 billion yen to develop water and sanitation facilities in the state.
The development aid arm also collaborated last year with Totetsu Manufacturing Co., a Japanese rain water utilization system maker, to explore the possibility of a rainwater storage system in Chennai.