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Automobile service centres use dry wash to cut down on water use in parched Chennai

File photo. Photograph:( WION )

WION Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India Jul 07, 2019, 11.27 PM (IST) Written By: Sidharth MP

Chennai is known as "Detroit of India" since it is the automobile hub of the country. But faced with a severe water crisis, the auto firms are now coming up with newer ways to cut down on water consumption.

Automobile service centres in the city are avoiding the use of water to wash the vehicles. But this doesn't mean that the job is shoddy - vehicles are returned spic and span. What these service centres are using is called the dry wash method.

"For water wash, we spend a minimum of 50 litres of water per vehicle. On average, 35 vehicles are water-washed resulting in wastage of 1500 litres of water. Whereas in a dry wash, we use 700ml of water and 300ml of dry wash liquid. This mixture can be used to clean seven to eight vehicles," said Prabhu Jayaraj, service manager at a Royal Enfield outlet in Chennai.

"We are following the dry wash across all of our service stations in Chennai and intend to do so for the foreseeable future until there is some development in the water crisis," he added.

In the dry wash, compressed air is blown on the vehicles at high speed which clears the dust away. Then the solution is sprayed, after which it can be wiped clean. The method requires less time and manpower.

"If I want to wash my bike at home I usually waste a lot of water. Dry washing is good, especially as we are suffering a water crisis in Chennai. I am really happy to give my bike here for a dry wash," said Deshvar, a Royal Enfield owner.

With hardly any summer rains, availability of water is getting scarce and all four reservoirs that supply Chennai have run virtually dry. But the government says it is taking all the measures necessary to resolve the issue.

"We have seen protests in some areas. Protesters should not disturb the public. Our government is taking steps to solve the water issue soon," Tamil Nadu Water Minister SP Velumani said on Wednesday.

The acute water shortage has forced some schools to shut, companies to ask employees to work from home and hotels to ration water for guests.

The Kancheepuram district to the southeast of the city, which includes the factories of many foreign automakers, saw groundwater levels deplete more than 6 ft (1.88 metres), or three times the state average, to about 20 ft during the year ended May 2019, the data showed.