Chennai, known as the Detroit of South Asia because of its thriving automobile industry, is currently going through a severe water crisis. Four major water reservoirs which use to feed this coastal city of Tamil Nadu have completely dried out. Automobile manufacturers in the city, which includes the likes of Hyundai, Nissan, Daimler and many others, are now looking for various steps to ensure smooth sailing through this situation. Among the chief water conservation measures taken by the automobile companies, is opting for the use of 'waterless' cleaning of cars.
South Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai told PTI that it has installed an extensive water management system at its factory in anticipation of the situation. Some measures taken by Hyundai Motor India Limited, which has two manufacturing facilities at Sriperumbudur near here, include a rainwater harvesting system to transfer collected rainwater to one of the four water storage ponds inside the campus. Besides, the Korean auto-major has taken up construction of a new pond.
Hyundai said it has set up an in-house water treatment plant that recycles 100 per cent of the used water in the campus. It has also launched a continuous awareness campaign to sensitize the employees on reducing water wastage. The company has reintroduced the 'dry wash' service enabling customers to get their cars cleaned through an 'eco-friendly' process. HMIL said it can save up to 120 litres of water per car through this initiative.
Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor said it has halted the use of car wash services in Chennai due to the acute water shortage. "Nissan has replaced regular car wash with innovative waterless car cleaning until end of July," a company release said. According to Nissan, through this cleaning methodology, approximately 162 litres of water can be saved per car. "The water crisis in Chennai needs to be proactively addressed and Nissan is doing its bit by temporarily stopping the water wash facility across our dealerships," Nissan India general manager (after sales), Atul Aggarwal said.
Maruti Suzuki, which does not have a facility here, said it has already adopted water conservation measures across its workshops in the country. It has achieved three-fold jump in water savings by adopting the dry wash initiative, a company release said. The company saved over 656 million litres of water during 2018-19 across its workshops which is 203 per cent higher as against 216 million litres in 2016-17. Maruti Suzuki India Executive Director (Service), Partho Banerjee said "dry wash at our dealer workshops help us do our bit to give back to society. We request over 18 million customers, who visit our workshops every year, to opt for dry wash and help conserve water."
The dry wash system has helped reduce the washing time, improve the final wash quality and reduce water consumption, he added. Daimler India Commercial Vehicle (DICV), subsidiary of Stuttgart-based Daimler, has its manufacturing facility in the Oragadam industrial belt, 45 km from Chennai. Responding to a query from PTI, the firm said it was "self-sufficient" to meet its water needs through the effluent and sewage treatment plants located in its campus. "The water and waste system network is planned in a way that it helps DICV draw benefit and keep fresh water demand to a minimum," the spokesperson said.
The 443-acre facility houses a rainwater harvesting pond and the buildings are equipped with facilities for artificial groundwater recharge. "This helps replenish the groundwater during the rainy period and serve fresh water throughout the year," the spokesperson said. With the use of effluent treatment plant, 60 per cent of the recovered effluent is utilised back in the process and remaining 40 per cent for maintaining the landscape. The facility also has a sewage treatment plant which employs the latest technology to treat wastewater, he said. "The output water quality of this system conforms to international standards before being used inside the factory for toilet flushing purposes and gardening," he said.