Companies

Water-starved Chennai IT corridor turns to BYOP to tackle crisis

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on June 14, 2019 Published on June 14, 2019

Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai houses a large number of IT companies with an estimated four lakh employees, apart from the local population   -  Dhiraj Singh

Employees asked to bring own disposable plates for home food

IT companies in Chennai have long had a policy centred around BYOD (bring your own device — such as laptops). Now, in response to a severe water crisis that has the city and its suburbs in its grip, the companies have embraced a BYOP policy for those bringing food from home. That’s Bring Your Own (Disposable) Plates.

A software engineer working with a large IT company in Sholinganallur said that until last week, employees were provided with plates to eat. However, due to water scarcity, the supply of plates was stopped.

Instead of keeping multiple use-and-throw paper cups at each water station, there is just one reusable cup, which is kept chained, he said.

The IT Corridor along Old Mahabalipuram Road houses a large number of IT companies with an estimated four lakh employees, apart from the local population. However, this stretch faces a severe water shortage, with protests reported every day demanding water supply.

In the total absence of piped water supply, large IT campuses and companies in big IT parks have set up water-recycling plants and arranged for supply from private tankers. However, smaller companies are at the mercy of Chennai Metrowater and private tankers, which are expensive, industry officials said.

Innovative methods

Companies such as Tata Consultancy Services and Cognizant Technology Solutions have water treatment plants at their campuses at Siruseri IT park. In fact, TCS has a large pond within the campus that serves as a good reservoir. “We don’t have any water problem,” said a TCS official.

Cognizant has adopted innovative water-saving methods by installing special nozzles into washbasin taps; these nozzles reduce the water flow to a mist by atomising the water into fine droplets, bringing down water consumption by 80 per cent and preventing wastage, said a company spokesperson.

The company has switched over to biodegradable plates in all its cafeterias, temporarily closed the shower facilities at its gyms, and minimised the washing of utensils in campuses by cafeteria vendors.

Due to these measures, the company has been able to further optimise water consumption. Cognizant has also created an online forum for employees to share ideas and best practices around water conservation, he said.

Nagaraj Mylandla, Founder and Managing Director of Financial Software and Systems, located at the Siruseri IT Park, said the company gets water supply from SIPCOT central services and from private water tankers, and uses recycled water for toilets.

None of the companies to whom BusinessLine spoke have asked their employees to work from home due to water shortage.

An official of an industry association said that having all the companies located in a single location like OMR will accentuate the water shortage. “Companies need to spread their wings across the State to avoid such problems,” he said.

Chennai’s total water requirement is 830 MLD (millions liters per day). Chennai Metrowater currently supplies about 525 MLD through various sources such as groundwater, lakes/reservoirs) and desalination plants. This leaves a supply deficit of around 300 MLD every day.

Water supply to South Chennai, where OMR is located, is met through Veeranam lake and Nemmeli Seawater Desalination Plant, said a senior Chennai Metrowater official.

Published on June 14, 2019
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