Biz as usual at Electronics City; others fight crisis

Electronics City – home to tech majors like Infosys, Wipro, and others – is emerging as a model that could be a potential answer to the water scarcity Bengaluru is battling.

It’s business as usual at the Electronics City Industries Association (Elcia), as well as its civic body the Electronics city Industrial Township Authority (Elcita), while the rest of tech suburbs have plunged into a crisis.

“The recent water crisis has had very little impact on our township. Combined with the bores, the stored and treated water, we are producing more water than what we get from the BWSSB (Bangalore water supply and sewerage board), and we are water positive,” said Rama NS, advisor to the two bodies. The civic body manages the 902-acre township that is home to more than 300 companies.

Currently, Elcita receives 1.2 million litres per day (MLD) of water from BWSSB and 0.15 MLD from borewells, distributing it to companies through pipelines and water tankers, according to the township’s website. It has implemented rainwater recharge facilities throughout the township, resulting in 476.4 KLD of rainwater recharge and 120 KLD of harvesting potential.

“The entire thing comes down to governance. For example, during the Bengaluru floods two years ago, we were not affected, because we would regularly clean our drains. And we educated the companies as well in this regard…most of them have rainwater harvesting systems,” said Rama, who was formerly the CEO of both Elcia & Elcita.

The township, she added, laid the water pipeline in Electronics City, and was very conscious of leaks from the beginning. “It is very important to have minimum wastage while distributing water. For example, we have heard that in various places, about 30% -40% of water is lost during the flow in pipelines. Here we began with a 5% loss and now, we have brought it down to 1%,” she added.

Infosys has cut its freshwater consumption to less than 15 litres per person per day, said regional head of infrastructure Guruprakash Sastry. “At Infosys, early on, we have implemented several measures to drive water conservation across our campuses in India. These include low-flow fixtures for demand reduction, smart water metering to identify and arrest leakages, sewage treatment plants to treat and reuse 100% of the wastewater, and rainwater harvesting to collect and use rainwater effectively.”

Across the sprawling township, the roads, drains and footpaths have been used for ground water harvesting. “In every drain, when we found water flowing towards the points, we dug up harvesting pits…which contributed to increasing the groundwater table level…we even plugged any leakage to save every amount of water we could,” Rama said.

While big firms have their own treatment plants, Elcita helps out smaller ones by treating their wastewater for a fee. The township has multiple STPs with a total capacity of 1925 KLD within Electronics City, which generate around 1600-1800 KLD of treated water per day.

Japanese automation company, FANUC India, said it has been able to conserve 60-70% of the rainwater. “Our drains are designed in a way that only 10% of water that falls on the surface goes out,” V Sriram Kumar, assistant general manager at FANUC India told ET. The firm consumes about 40,000 litres a day, and none of it is from the Cauvery or from the Elcita. “Right now, we are close to being water positive as a company overall. For the Bangalore campus, I can say that we have not bought a single drop of water for domestic purposes.” Kumar is also the president of ELCIA.

Harry Byrne

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