CHENNAI: The impending water crisis, which has started to show strong signs across the city, has not spared the thriving IT hubs along the OMR and ECR stretches. While the consumption of water in the IT industry as compared to manufacturing industries, water still stands as an essential commodity in their daily functioning. Some companies which have already started to reel under this water storage are employing various strategies and shortcuts to minimise usage, but the problem persists.
To choose between bad and worse
Firstly, buying water from private tankers is expensive. Secondly, even if they can afford it, water is simply not available even through private agencies nowadays. Thirdly, even if water is obtained it is, it is of such bad quality that it cannot be used by employees even in toilets. Aishwarya is one such IT professional who avoids using the restroom at work because of the foul-smelling water sourced from private tankers.
She goes back to her hostel nearby for a quick bathroom break every time she wants to relieve herself. “Even at my hostel, we get water from private tankers, which is of poor quality. So we all pool in money and get packaged water cans and use it for bathing also. Luckily for me, my hostel is less than a kilometre away from work, but others have to adjust and use the water at work,” said Aishwarya, who works at an IT firm in SIPCOT IT park at Siruseri.
Though the water quality is questionable because of poor groundwater quality and dry borewells, small, medium and large scale IT companies still depend solely on water from private tankers. Adhira, another IT professional who works at a medium-scale company in Perungudi said that as water from the borewell was sludgy, they switched to water tankers.“As summer is nearing water quality from tankers is deteriorating. Most IT companies work round the clock hence work from home is also not an option at times of water scarcity,” she said.
Steep rise in demand
Private water tanker managers source close to 1.20 crore litres of water every day, on an average, for these companies.. “Since February, the demand for water especially in the IT sector has gone up exponentially. Most employees don’t use water judiciously and use five buckets of water in the restroom when only one bucket is sufficient. For big IT parks, we supply almost six to seven lakh litres of water every day,” said Nijalingam N, president of South Chennai Private Water Tanker Association.
Small but effective mayday methods
In November 2018, when private water tanker and water can associations went on a week-long strike, the entire IT sector in Chennai got a rather rude awakening to reality. Some companies even went to the extent of closing down for a couple of days.
After this, the companies realised the gravity of the situation and threw their social corporate responsibility teams into action for coming up with contingency measures. While a few large-scale companies started using recycled greywater and minimised buying fresh water, many medium- and small-scale companies started adopting smaller but effective measures. These include using paper plates in place of steel plates to cut down on water used for washing vessels, bringing down the number of toilets used per floor, using recycled water for gardening and sensitising employees about judicious use of water.
An IT professional, who did want to be named, said that in his office, tap heads were fitted on all taps to reduce water wastage. “Ever since the water tanker strike, we have mended our ways when it comes to using water minimally. For example in the kitchen, vessels are not washed with water but are cleaned using steam. Also after tap heads were installed, we have brought down our consumption by 50 per cent,” he said.
In bigger IT firms, leisure activities which require water for maintenance have been cut down during times of water shortage.At Infosys, during the strike the swimming pool was closed and toilets in the training building which weren’t frequently used were closed.“Cricket ground, badminton court, the gym which has a steam bath facility will be shut during such a crisis. But, water is used to clean the roads, pavements and bus bays inside the campus once in ten days. Even three days back, they cleaned the roads first using soap water and then washed it with water,” said an employee.