Water Crisis: Chennai IT Valley Adopts BYOP Principle To Tackle Scarcity

Water Scarcity has become so grave that after construction sector which came to a grinding halt, Chennai's IT corridor has introduced BYOP policy.

In response to a severe water crisis that has Chennai and its suburbs in its grip, the IT companies have embraced a BYOP policy for those bringing food from home. That is- Bring Your Own (Disposable) Plates.

The IT Corridor along Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) 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.

Hence major IT companies in Sholinganallur area have stopped the supply of plates in their premises. Instead of keeping multiple use-and-throw paper cups at each water station, there is just one reusable cup attached to the water coolers.

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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 still at the mercy of Chennai Metrowater (CMWSSB) and private tankers, which are expensive.

Chennai’s total water requirement currently stands at 830 MLD (million 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.

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 atomizing the water into fine droplets, bringing down water consumption by 80 percent and preventing wastage. Geetha S, an employee at Cognizant Technology Solutions, Tambaram said that a device called ‘EcoMist’ has been installed in the taps in their office since the beginning of May.

“This device minimizes water outflow from the tap by a huge quantity and the water that comes out is almost like a mist. It ensures that a lot of water is saved when a person uses the tap,” she added.

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

Due to these measures, the company has been able to further optimize 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.

As on Thursday, the four main reservoirs together hold 31 Million Cubic Feet (Mcft) of water against a total full capacity of 11,257 Mcft, which is a mere 0.27% of the total water-holding capacity. Poondi reservoir has 30 Mcft where as Chembarambakkam has only 1Mcft left. The water level at Cholavaram and Red Hills lakes stood at zero on Thursday.  The gradually depleting water levels had pushed CMWSSB to depend on other sources including water from desalination plants and stone quarries in Kanchipuram district.

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