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Last Updated : Jun 17, 2019 05:29 PM IST | Source:

Paper plates and spoons, fewer washrooms, limited working hours: Industries in Chennai try to cope with water crisis

Many restaurants have also reduced the number of meals served.

Representative Image.
Representative Image.

As water crisis in Chennai deepens, industries, including IT companies, are looking for ways to cut down their usage of water.

While larger IT firms are able to manage the crisis through in-house water treatment plants and shift to biodegradable plastic, smaller companies are struggling.

Food courts in some IT companies have shifted to paper plates and cups as there is not enough water to wash utensils. In addition, employees who bring food from home are asked to bring their own paper plates and spoons, which they used to avail from the food court.


Deepa Muthu*, an IT employee based in Chennai and brings packed lunch, said: "We are now asked to bring our own plates and spoons, which I used to take from kiosks in food court earlier."

However for smaller companies, it is a tough situation to handle. A Shankar*, an employee working in a small IT firm in Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) stretch, said: "Our company has made few adjustments to overcome the situation."

Shankar's workplace now has reduced the number of functioning restrooms in the offices.  "In my floor they have shut down washrooms on one side," he said. In other floors only one washroom is functioning, one for men and women each."

The company has limited its working hours for employees up to a maximum of six hours from eight hours earlier. The pending workload in now being transferred to onsite colleagues.

"Also we are working in shifts. We have a few employees working in each shift in morning, afternoon and night," he added.

However, work from home does not seem to be an official stand. Shankar pointed out that work from home is not an option for his company as they work with client directly. Other employees from major IT firms that Moneycontrol reached out to have said that they did not get an official statement about work from home option.

An international agency in Chennai given water allowance."Each employee in the company was given a one time allowance of $200 to tide over the water crisis," said Ramya S*

The issue is not restricted to IT companies though. Many restaurants have reduced the number of meals served. Venkat Raghav, a resident, said: "The hotels have stopped serving breakfast. They are only serving lunch and at times dinner due to water shortage."

Shiva P*, a recent graduate from a college in Chennai, advanced his trip back home in Kerala. He was initially planning to stay back for a week or two to spend time with his friends. "I was staying alone and all the eateries near my house were closed due to water shortage. I had no option but to return home," he added.

The blame, the people say, completely lies in the lack of efficient water management by the government and bad urban planning. The OMR stretch houses close to three lakh IT employees, majority of the work force in the city putting additional pressure on already limited resources. The solution is to spread across instead of concentrating in a single area, an official said in a report.

Some companies have taken deeper steps. For instance, TCS campus in Chennai has an in-house water treatment plant that recycles majority of the water used. This makes it a little easier to manage than other companies during a crisis.

But such initiatives are few and far between.

*names changed on request
First Published on Jun 17, 2019 04:10 pm