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Chennai restaurants avoid plates to save water, serve food on banana leaves

The rains may have provided temporary relief, but the city's water crisis is far from over.

Chennai restaurants avoid plates to save water, serve food on banana leaves

Chennai: As the water crisis deepens in the capital city of Tamil Nadu, different segments of society are now mulling over new alternatives to tackle the problem. Chennaites have started implementing special measures to ensure judicious use of water and conserve it for upcoming days.

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City-based hotels and restaurants have rolled out innovative steps to ensure that businesses can function unhindered. From pushcarts to popular restaurants, the industry is switching to traditional ways of serving meals, to help reduce water consumption.

Meals are now being served on banana leaves or stainless steel plates that are topped with banana leaves. Notices requesting customers to cooperate have been put up at several restaurants. 

Offering food on banana leaves has roots in ancient cultures of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Traditionally during wedding feasts, temple puja offerings, and festival meals, food would be served on banana leaves. 

"We were a society that was more used to natural products, natural packaging and much more. From leaf-based to stem-based packaging material, it's all available. There used to be communities that used to thrive on an economy based on this. Its time we revived all of it," Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of Environmentalist Foundation of India told Zee News

Commenting on prevalent situation in the hotels, Namma Veedu Vasanta Bhavan director Anand Krishnan said, "Of late, we have started using plantain leaves for all the dishes that we serve. For the main course, we give them a single plate topped with a plantain leaf and request the guests to not ask for additional plates when they order new dishes.”

Several restaurants have also switched to sea-water for handwash, with many putting up notices "SALT WATER". 

The water crisis has also impacted the supply of vegetables and plantain leaves used to cover plates, resulting in price rise. 

"If the same scenario prevails, we will be forced to increase the prices a little bit. For 25000 liters of water we now pay Rs 6000, whereas it'd cost only Rs 1500 a few months ago. Prices of vegetables too have gone up by around 20-30 per cent. If things worsen we may also have to cut down on our menu and reduce the number of dishes that we serve," added Anand Krishnan.

The city's water crisis also has garnered international attention after Hollywood superstar Leonardo Dicaprio shared a BBC report on Chennai's water woes on his Instagram page and wrote: "Only rain can save Chennai from this situation".

This week, the city has been receiving intermittent spells of rain, but it barely helps meet the daily water requirements. The rains may have provided temporary relief, but the crisis is far from over.