Ongoing torrential rains in Tamil Nadu have brought its capital city, Chennai, to a virtual standstill. This has become a major cause of concern for India’s Information and Technology (IT) sector, an industry that essentially earns its revenues on an hourly basis. Almost all big Chennai situated IT companies are shifting their critical operations with attendant staffs to other cities to honour their professional commitments on time. “Such shifting of operations does have a cost, the quantum of which would be worked out,” says Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president, Nasscom, the lobby group of India’s IT industry. Meanwhile, IT companies are trying to limit their damages by disaster recovery and business continuity plans. “But, it is also true that such plans cannot prepare you for the magnitude of what these floods have been,” confesses Gupta. “Right now our priority is to ensure the safety and security of our employees besides doing our bit to soothe the sufferings of the general public.”
The torrential downpour that has been lashing the coastal town continually has impacted the operations in the automobile and textile sectors as well. Assocham has estimated losses of Rs 5,000 crore for entire businesses situated in Chennai. While the quantum of losses for the IT sector is being worked out, it could be significant if the situation does not improve fast. The Indian Meteorological Department expects more rains to lash the coastal city which has already received over 80% more than normal rainfall. Chennai, the second largest IT hub in the country, houses all major Indian as well as foreign IT companies. “We have obviously lost three to four days of productive employee’s time already,” says Gupta. She confesses that having one of our largest metro cities totally submerged under water with no electricity and water supply has indeed become a big concern for the industry.
Indian IT companies are working on contingency plans to honour their professional commitments made to their clients situated all over the world. Every IT company is getting some part of their Chennai work delivered from other cities. “I, along with 150 others colleagues, have been shifted to Delhi from Chennai to finish our project for our US based client,” says Priyanka, a Tech Mahindra employee.” She adds that almost every major IT company is relocating its staff to other locations like Pune, Mumbai and Gurgoan to ensure continuity of their business operations. Experts however believe that damages due to floods would be capped by the fact that the December quarter remains a lean quarter for the Indian IT industry.