Real Estate

Construction sector gasps as Chennai grapples with water crisis

NARAYANAN V | | Updated on: May 17, 2019

Construction companies are resorting to innovative construction technologies to minimise water usage | Photo Credit: Shaju John

As Chennai is grappling with severe water crisis, the water-intensive real estate sector is beginning to feel the heat. Many players have slowed down their activities and those in operation have found innovative ways to keep themselves going.

As the summer grinds on, groundwater table in many parts of the city has plummeted to alarming levels and reservoirs have dried up, forcing Chennai Metrowater Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) to reduce piped water supply. This has, in turn, put pressure on the private tanker lorries who ferry water from outside the city. With preference being given to meeting the drinking water and domestic needs, industries are finding it difficult and costlier to meet their water needs.

“Water is a key requirement for construction from the initial build-up to the final completion of project, so we buy water from private players in dire situations,” said Varun Manian, Managing Director, Radiance Realty Developers Ltd. “But the charges levied by the water suppliers increase day-by-day and this does have a huge impact on our business,” he added.

Observation wells dry up

According to data from the Rain Centre, an NGO that creates awareness about the need and relevance of rainwater harvesting (RWH) in urban areas, 50 out of 88 observation wells across the city have gone dry. Triplicane, Anna Nagar, Mylapore, Adyar and Valasaravakkam are some of the areas where groundwater levels have gone down considerably. Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) that houses major IT companies and several luxurious residential properties is one of the worst-affected areas. “We knew that OMR is prone to water crisis, so we do not have any of our properties located there,” said S Aadharsh Kumar Surana, Managing Director, Amarprakash Developers Pvt Ltd. “All our properties are strategically located in places where there is adequate groundwater supply or in the vicinity of lakes,” Surana added.

Construction companies are also resorting to innovative construction technologies to minimise water usage.

“In construction material, we use Gypsum plaster, an alternate material to cement sand plaster which requires 50 per cent less water for mixing and no water for curing,” said P Vijayan Janardhanan, Business Head (Residential), Mahindra World City, Chennai. He added that ORIGINS-Chennai, the first industrial cluster in Tamil Nadu by Mahindra Lifespaces, has planned initiatives including 100 per cent waste water treatment to reduce potable water use by 28 per cent, a tertiary water treatment plant of 1.2 MLD capacity and 100 per cent rainwater harvesting to recharge groundwater.

“We have placed water treatment plants at our sites which facilitates reusability. Besides, we are also using self-curing concrete which reduces consumption of water,” Manian said.

The industry is hoping that the North-East monsoon will not let them down as it did last year. If that happens, construction activity in the city and its surroundings will come to a grinding halt.

Published on May 17, 2019
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