NEWS
17/06/2019 7:28 PM IST

Work From Home And Fewer Bathrooms: Tamil Nadu IT Firms Deal With Water Crisis

The Tamil Nadu government, however, sought to play down the issue.

ARUN SANKAR via Getty Images
People queue to get drinking water from a tanker on the outskirts of Chennai.

CHENNAI — From asking employees to work from home to reducing the number of bathrooms in offices, the Information Technology companies in Tamil Nadu are looking at ways to tackle one of the worst water crises to have affected the state in many years.

Employees from a cross-section of IT majors said their managements have turned to various ways to handle the situation, even as tankers and alternative sources are quenching the thirst, albeit at a fortune.

When contacted, industry sources told PTI that quite a few top companies along Old Mahabalipuram Road, also known as the IT Corridor, and the Siruseri IT Park have “orally” asked employees to work from home. 

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“While some teams which are required for taking up day to day operations have been asked to come to office”, many others, including software professionals, have been assigned ‘work from home duty’, an employee of an IT major located in suburban Sholinganallur said.

To meet the demands for their day to day operations, IT companies largely depend upon private water tankers.

In one of the worst years, Chennai and its neighbourhoods have been witnessing an extended summer after a deficient northeast monsoon in 2018, leading to depleted groundwater levels.

The government is managing the demand for water by opting for supply through tankers, besides identifying alternatives like quarries to meet the demand.

Meanwhile, another employee of a software firm in suburban Singaperumal Koil said the water situation has resulted in decreasing the number of bathrooms.

“For example, if there are 10 bathrooms on a floor, only two have been made available for employees due to water shortage”, he said.

Queries sent to the spokesperson of a leading IT company did not elicit any response.

The Tamil Nadu government, however, sought to play down the issue.

“The practice of work from home was already existent and the companies have only asked them (employees) to do so,” Tamil Nadu Munipal Administration and Rural development Minister SP Velumani told reporters.

When queried about alleged lack of private water tanker supply to IT companies, Velumani said the government is ready to help them out by arranging private water tanker supply if they require.

He denied reports of some hotels and restaurants facing closure due to water shortage.

As a water-saving measure, such small and medium-sized hotels have been asked to use plantain leaves instead of plates, he said.