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Construction industry in Chennai struggles due to water shortage

May 2019
Chennai is struggling with water crisis and among the many sectors and segments, its effect is largely seen on the real estate sector too. On account of water shortage, many construction players have slowed down their activities and operations. However, this crisis has also provoked those in operations to come up with innovative ways to keep the sector going.

The groundwater in many parts of the city have reportedly reduced at alarming levels. The reservoirs have dried up, thus forcing Chennai Metrowater Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) to reduce piped water supply. This has hence put pressure on the private tanker lorries who ferry water from outside the city. The industries are therefore finding it difficult and costlier to meet their water needs.

Water is important and one of the key elements in the construction process. It is required from the initial build-up to the final completion of project. Real estate developers and construction companies end up buying water from private players in dire situations. Also, the charges levied by the water suppliers have been increasing day-by-day, thus affecting the business at large. 

Reports suggest that 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. 

That said, construction companies are also resorting to innovative construction technologies to minimise water usage. Some developers are finding tricks to survive this drought. For instance, gypsum plaster is used instead of cement sand plaster. Gypsum plaster is an alternate material to cement sand plaster. It requires 50 per cent less water for mixing and no water for curing. Also, reportedly, 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. 

For the construction activity to run smoothly, the industry is looking forward to the rains this year.