Water Woes and Software Firms

Water crisis in Chennai is at peak now. We have massive flood in Chennai several years before and within 5 years of this historical 100 year record flood, Chennai is on news with water crisis as main issues.

Last week there are lot of news circulating that IT companies are having deep water crisis and they did not able to run their offices. As a result, many IT companies are asking their employees to work from home. Many of the IT employees are now working from their home. This is hot news in many leading newspapers and we also got calls from various news magazines like Puthiya Thalaimurai and News 7 channel. We will explore answer for this issue with much closer look.


In early 2010, in the peak summer time, tanker lorries went on strike as local villagers attacked tanker lorries as they are taking water from villages for commerical usages. Wipro one of the leading IT company employed several thousand of employees working in their office premises. As tanker lorry stopped, company did not able to meet the water needs of employees even for half a day and announced leave for afternoon session.  Wipro learn the lesson from this incident and steps taken by Wipro to overcome this situation is the lesson for the society now.

Wipro started building very strong rain water harvesting mechanism in all their campuses. They started reusing water and installed strong recycling plants. These activities happened in phase manner and today Wipro is now using more than 40% of their water needs from its own source of water. Remember that Chennai ELCOT SEZ area has salty water and there is no natural reservoir of water exist in many of these companies. The employee count has increased multifolds after 2010 in Wipro and even now Wipro 40-50% of entire water requirement comes from rain water harvested and reusing of water. This is definitely significant achievement and another feather in cap of Mr Premji to set this example. Refer the article in forbes for details about this news http://www.forbesindia.com/article/defining-debates-of-2011/azim-premji-the-business-of-ecology/25452/1

Now Wipro is not only concentrating in improving their water levels in campuses but also in vendor areas who supply water for the company.  Wipro also played vital role in helping Karnataka Government in the field of ecology and to improve water level in Bangalore.

In the last several years, there are more lorry strikes happened in Chennai areas but Wipro is not shut down even for single day. This applies to many IT companies and their measures ensures smooth business during water crisis situation.


But we did not ruled out there is absolutely no problem of water crisis for IT companies. They have water crisis but they made several measures to reduce water usage. The various measures are listed below:

1)      Some of the companies asked certain portion of employees to work from home

2)       They replaced tea cups with use and throw paper cups

3)      They closed down some of the toilets in certain floors to save water

4)      Implemented various other water saving methods to save water

The news of IT companies asking employees to work from home only becomes viral. It is quite obvious in IT industry to ask employees work from home. This practice is very common in IT industry and it is quite usual that 10-15% of employees work from home at any point of time. This percentage might have increased and certain non-critical business unit with connectivity available to work from home only advised to work from home. It is absolutely not possible in IT sector to make all employees work from home and there are certain business units that run in restricted workplace where even mobiles are restricted. So obviously employees part of these units are still working in companies and only certain percentage of employee who has possibilty to work from home  are only asked to work from home.

There is no official announcement from many of the IT companies to work from home atleast as far as we know. I talked with some of the companies working in Siruseri areas and want to highlight statement of an employee whom we talked with:

“I lived in a mansion in Siruseri area and we have severe water crisis in our mansion. So I come to office and do our daily needs. I also took 2-3 bottles of drinking water from the office while I leave from office”

This statement illustrate the other side of the problem. I am not definitely stating here there is no absolute water crisis in IT companies. Definitely they have crisis but they are living with that problem.  Their preventive steps help them to  live with the problem.

So media projecting problems of water crisis in IT sector is to certain extent exaggerating factor. It is very sad that layoff news, employee suicides due to layoff are not making media attention but only exaggerating factors are reaching media attention.

Also water crisis for common people is at the peak now. Many of the areas in Tamilnadu have deep water crisis. Government is not taking any preventive measures like corporate companies is one of the prime reason for water crisis. We are letting rain water to Bay of Bengal every year during rainy season and blaming nature for water drought. IT companies also should use their CSR measure to improve the ecological factor and helping Government to implement solution for water crisis issues. People also save water, implement rain harvesting in their homes and plant trees to improve the ecology factors. Then only water crisis issue will be resolved permanently and till then it is just few days news like any other matter for media

— Shyam Sundar

President NDLF IT Empoyees Wing

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