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Taking Inspiration of water conservation to another level: How ATK Group of Companies, Tamil Nadu decided to walk the talk by growing 2 Crore Litres of rainwater storage along with growing their organization

    Water is fundamental to life – a fact we all are well aware of, but often we end up not taking the issue of water scarcity seriously. While the regulations encourage rain-water harvesting, it does not require one to have an optimum storage to utilize full potential of rains. So mostly rain-water is harvested for some storage, and for the recharge and still some water goes down the drains.

    Mr. Subbiah Rajasekar, one of the Directors, ATK Group

    Mr. Subbiah Rajasekar, one of the co-owners and promoter, spoke about his obsession of water conservation. In, the initial days, Mr. Rajasekar had observed that the typical borewells at residential places in the state were of 100 feet approx. Though with time, the demand of water has increased to such an extent that a typical borewell now a days is at least 800 feet deep. Water security is a crucial part of long-term sustainability of any organization as water scarcity can hit an organization hard during the drought years. These incidents are expected to increase owing to the climatic shift.

    What started as an inspiration after watching a TED talk of Dr Anupam Mishra, was taken personally by Mr. Rajasekar. Dr Mishra in this talk described about his lifelong work about exploring ancient water conservation practices across the dry belt of India, particularly Rajasthan. The beautiful underground water storage structures were revered and maintained as these were considered life-line for the desert folks. Mr Rajasekar brought his innovative thoughts to life by creating concrete structures to store as much water as possible. These structures had to be well built up, to avoid any leakage or seeping. Six years ago, the company started working on this mission as it realized that water security is most significant for security of businesses and life itself.

    Water Security

    The management of the company analyzed and came to a conclusion that managing water requires 4 ways:

    1. Reduce consumption
    2. Reduce wastage
    3. Recycle water
    4. Store rainwater & use

    Analyzing their own water requirement, it was clear that the process water was well managed but the domestic water consumption such as for drinking water, canteen and wash-rooms requires careful planning. The company calculated its water requirement and decided that they can build underground concrete structures for water storage.

    Also, water cannot be conserved if one person tries to put in all the efforts while his/her neighbor keeps on exploiting it, hence awareness of water conservation is required.

    The Company and its Philosophy

    Mr. Keerthi Ramaswamy, one of the Directors & Head of Spinning Division

    The company ‘Theni Gurukrishna Textile Mills Pvt. Ltd.’ By ATK group, which is a family business, was set up almost three decades ago in 1992 in Theni, South India, by four brothers and the following generation kept the business alive and flourishing. Currently, they own 12 mills in Rajapalyam, Sivakasi, Theni, Coimbatore, Perundurai area. The products of the company include various kinds of cotton and blended yarns, dyed yarns, grey and dyed fabrics, industrial fabrics, terry products, garments for the domestic market and home textile products for export. It is a fully integrated company with spinning, weaving, fabric and apparels, including supplying to the international brands. The spinning includes ring spinning, open and air-jet, similarly weaving includes projectile and air jet weaving. In last few years the company has also focused on certification such as OEKO Tex, SEDEX.

    Large roofs are the assets that the spinning and textile mills have. In case of this company, all the processes related to water use recycled water, which means the fresh-water consumption is only for domestic water use. The company meets a considerable percentage of water requirement for domestic purposes through recycling water. This implies water for drinking, canteen, washrooms and plants.

    The company has a total roof area of 2 million Sqft. While the thumb rule suggests for areas near Coimbatore (rainfall of 30 inches per year), one square foot can yield 67 liters of water. If the company plans to capture even half of that, it still has 6.5 Crore litre it can capture and use. So, the company has so far collected 2 Crore litres already and there is a lot more that can be captured.

    Two Crore litres water storage and more coming in near future

    The concrete storage stru ctures that are underneath the green places in all the factories cumulatively have around 20 million liters of storage. Currently, these water tanks can hold up to 2 crore liters of water and the company plans to build more structures till optimum collection and storage capacity is achieved. The dream goal is to exponentiate the number and achieve the target of 20 crore liters water harvesting.

    Energy Mantra behind the thinking

    The company believes in making use of the natural resources; thus, natural energy sources are an integral part of the company’s strategy for energy requirement. The company has been using wind energy for its major energy requirements and recently, they have started with the solar energy as well. Currently 30% of company’s energy requirements comes from windmills, carbon neutral source of energy. The company has plans to install more roof top solar panels for 7 MW requirement which will be taken forward in near future.

    Mr. Rajasekar sums up the philosophy of water conservation as “Using natural resources to its advantage is when humans can survive, if we make excuses for what is not appropriate it does not work, we can just keep on making excuses. People give excuses – oh the work can’t be done today; it’s raining or its windy. The message we want to give is When its windy, we are happy as our wind-mills are working, when it’s raining, we are happy as we can collect water and when it’s sunny, we are happy as our solar is fully utilized. There is nothing called bad weather, only different kinds of weather that we can optimize”. His message to his supply chain and to the rest of the textile entrepreneurs is to start making use of all resources and go with the flow.

    Water is life and ATK group’s philosophy to save every drop of water, shows how they care for life. Be it humans or the entire ecosystem.

    Written by: Dr Shashi K, Sameeksha Sahai