Archives March 2011

Living in a Housing Society – Know Your Neighbors!

The joy of living in a housing society mainly revolves around getting to know a lot of people and practicing the art of community living. You may feel out-of-place and shy when you first move into a housing society, but you should get over this phase and actively socialize so that you personally become a recognized member of the community too.

There are many advantages involved with getting to know the other residents:

  • Make your voice heard – You can actively participate in resident meetings and give your opinions and views
  • Get help – You can get their help in organizing events and in general situations
  • Expand your personal network – Some residents may be doctors or therapists and you can contact them in case of some emergency, some may be of use as your business contacts
Always Provide A Helping Hand in the Society Activities

Always Provide A Helping Hand in the Society Activities

But before you reap some benefits, you need to first make efforts to know your new neighbors. There are a few ideas that you can implement in order to know your neighbors better and to be an active member in housing society affairs, and these are:

  • Go Jogging Or Walking – A large number of residents in a housing society are bound to be jogging or walking outside on the common roads in the wee hours of the morning. You can buckle up your jogging shoes and head out to meet your neighbors along your course. You can catch up with them and make small talk, as this is not an intrusive scenario. You can even plan out a daily jogging routine together with them.
  • Be Visible And Active – There’s no way you can get to know your neighbors by locking yourself up in your room. Sit outside in common areas like the park or ground and say ‘Hello’ to every person you come across. You don’t even have to be repetitive, just a polite nod will do. You can also spend some time in your balcony, just to be visible and become a familiar face to your neighbors and other residents. Make sure that you attend all housing society meetings, and give your inputs in a polite manner.
  • Make Them Some Delicacies  – This is a time consuming process, but it’ll be worth every second if you invest your time in it. You don’t have to feed the entire housing society; you can whip up a few cookies or other delicacies for your neighbors and introduce yourself in this way. If you’re too tired to bake anything, just get some sweets from a well known store and head over to introduce yourself.
  • Offer To Help – When you see that your neighbor is having trouble in managing some issue, offer a helping hand. This is a great way of making friends, although you have to ensure that you don’t end up making false promises. This includes small and large offers like holding their groceries while they open the door or taking care of their pet when they’re not in town.
  • Organize An Event – This is one of the best ways of getting to know your neighbors. Plan out a party sometime during the weekend when you’re sure that your neighbors and other residents are free, you can coordinate with them regarding the same. Encourage conversations and get to know them better over drinks or even some tea.

This article aims at collating and providing information for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. While ApnaComplex has taken every care to ensure the information is accurate, we suggest to please use it only as a guidance for further discussion and action with help of relevant professionals.

Essential Services In A Housing Society – Things To Consider When Hiring The Staff

Any housing society will need a good service staff so that its residents find it easier to get their job done. Along with a good set of people who can take care of the apartment’s maintenance, the apartment association should also hire security guards and housekeeping staff, as these are key roles that need to be filled.

Members of the apartment association will find that they have a multitude of options in hand, when it comes to hiring security personnel and housekeeping staff. They should list out all their options and try and get the best bargains, so that they can keep their overall expenditure minimal.

Choosing A Security Agency:

When it comes to selecting the right security agency, there are many factors that the association in a housing society can consider to get a good bargain:

  • The reliability quotient involved with the security agency. Some agencies will be well known and they’ll offer their services to apartment complexes and commercial regions all around town. These agencies can be considered first and their offers compared.
  • The managing committee should check whether the number of shifts that the security agency provides is adequate. Some security agencies might send two guards through the day, while other might send three.
  • While hiring security personnel, it’s important to take their experience into account. Security men with proper training will be able to respond to threats in a more effective manner.
  • The versatility of such security personnel can also be considered. They should be able to support the maintenance crew if there are any sudden problems, and they should also know how to administer first aid if there are any accidents within the complex.
  • The roles of these security guards should be made clear firstly, and their many tasks should be correctly specified. Details on whether they have to guard the gate and take note of all outside vehicles that enter the housing society should be put down.

Choosing The Housekeeping Staff:

Consider All Your Housekeeping Options

Consider All Your Housekeeping Options


A housing society can either have its own housekeeping staff or it can let the residents choose their staff for themselves. Having a standard housekeeping staff is better, because the staff members will be known and familiar individuals, bringing down security concerns by a great margin.

The following factors should be considered so that the association can get a good bargain:

  • The tasks of the housekeeping staff need to be listed down. Housekeeping services in India include washing, sweeping, cleaning and dusting services so these should all be taken into account.
  • The working hours of these individuals should also be properly specified.
  • Their monthly salaries and any bonuses that should be given during the festive season should be noted.
  • The number of days that the housekeeping staff can take leave should also be mentioned.

Once all these factors are taken into account and the many options are considered, it’ll be easier for a housing society to choose the right personnel for good rates.


This article aims at collating and providing information for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. While ApnaComplex has taken every care to ensure the information is accurate, we suggest to please use it only as a guidance for further discussion and action with help of relevant professionals.

Celebrating Holi in your Society – Do’s and Don’ts

ApnaComplex wishes every one a very Happy Holi!

Celebrate, rejoice and make merry – while dodging splashes of colors at the same time. Take some time off your chores and unwind with your fellow members in the society. We’ve put together some simple dos and don’ts for a safe, thoughtful and fun Holi. You can also download these Do’s and Don’ts in a printer friendly, attractive poster format that you can share with all your society members and also put up on your Society’s noticeboard.

Holi Poster that can be placed in your Society's Noticeboard

Holi Poster that can be placed in your Society's Noticeboard

Dos and Don’ts

Dos Don’ts
  • Use all-natural colors and powders made from flower extracts
  • Give your children buckets of clean water and monitor their activities
  • Roll your car windows up while driving inside the apartment complex
  • Take out your old and faded clothes and wear them for the occasion
  • Apply colors on people’s faces in a gentle manner, and understand that some residents may not be in a mood to celebrate
  • Give your children a short brief on the cultural significance behind the fun festival
  • Apply oil on your skin and hair – you can slip away easily, and the colors won’t stick!

 

  • Don’t use unclean water
  • Don’t use artificial colors (abir), as these contain flakes of mica
  • Don’t pour colored water on plants and garden areas
  • Don’t create a mess in the common areas and parking lots, always stick to the site that the committee decides on
  • Drinking bhang maybe customary, but don’t force feed it to anyone
  • Don’t take things to heart if your neighbor’s children go overboard, be forgiving
  • Don’t spray colors on the walls, vehicles or doorways of other residents
  • Don’t throw balloons or spray colored water inside other flats, and respect their personal space

 

May the festival bring along good health and good luck to you and your family!


Recycle Water: Does Bangalore face Waterless Future? – Final Part

In final part of “Does Bangalore face Waterless Future?” series presented by ApnaComplex, Mr. S.S.Ranganathan elaborates on “RECYCLE” parts of his “REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE” mantra for Water Conservation. He explains how technology can help recycle waste water to potable water.
Looking for earlier parts fo this series? Read Part – 1 and Part – 2.

RE-USE

Reuse of water is possible when you consider that the water used in a washing machine can be collected and used to flush toilets.Of course, this becomes very difficult and cumbersome in an apartment.It is possible without much difficulty in a bungalow, so this
aspect  is not going to be discussed further.

RECYCLE

In the present context, this means that water used and therefore contaminated is subjected to treatment and thereafter used for uses other that drinking , cooking and bathing/washing. Water used by humans emerges with contaminants like soap/detergent/cleaning chemicals, oil, grease from the kitchens and bathrooms due to its use for washing and bathing. This water is referred to as “sullage” or “grey water”. Whereas, water used to flush toilets results in what is often called “ black water” but commonly known as “Sewage”. On an average 75 to 80% of water used by a human in a residence emerges as waste water. In an apartment/gated community, both these waters come out of the buildings/villas through separate pipes, but, are combined and taken to a Sewage Treatment Plant(STP).

Grey water is easier to treat than sewage, but, since in most places space is expensive, it is combined with sewage and treated in an STP. In a majority of cases, fresh water is used by the resident in a building to flush toilets with fresh water whereas, toilet flushing does not need  water that is good enough to drink. It is essential therefore to install a well designed STP and install separate tanks on the roof of each building with dedicated plumbing for toilet flushing, gardening and washing of cars, yards /roads, etc. Recycling is capable of reducing fresh water demand by as much as 50%.

The island nation Singapore has no fresh water of its own, but gets water piped in from neighbouring Malaysia. In anticipation of a possible stoppage of water by Malaysia, Singapore has build STPs with ‘ polishing treatment’ using a process called ultrafiltration which makes purified sewage fit to drink. This treated sewage meets as much as 30% of the drinking water demand of Singapore and is even sold as bottled water with the name “ Nuwater”. I have personally brought bottles of this water back to India and used it for drinking. The technology is available in India too, but it does not come cheap.

I often get questions asking what is the ROI (return on investment) with these investments in having proper STPs, proper plumbing and technology. My answer is that such a question is irrelevant when there is no fresh water to drink! The only alternative is to die of thirst? What would you prefer?

About the author
S S RanganathanMr. S.S. Ranganathan, author of this series of guest posts, is a retired senior executive of Ion Exchange and currently a freelance Water Management Consultant based in Bangalore. His blog at “India Water Portal” explains the work he does in detail. He can be reached at +91-93437-34229.


This article aims at providing information for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely of Mr. S. S. Ranganathan and NOT of ApnaComplex or its representatives. We suggest to post your queries or comments below and Mr. Rangathan can answer them at his convenience.

Reduce Water Consumption: Does Bangalore face Waterless Future? – Part 2

In part-2 of “Does Bangalore face Waterless Future” series presented by ApnaComplex, Mr. S.S.Ranganathan elaborates on ‘REDUCE’ part of his ‘mantra’ – REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE. He goes on to recommend installation of water meters for every flat/villa in a gated community based on his studies/experience. Read “Does Bagalore face Waterless Future? Part – 1”.

REDUCE

This refers to current water consumption which needs to be monitored carefully so that it can be reduced. Water consumption guidelines are laid down by the CPHEEO (Central Public Health Engineering & Environmental Organisation) which is a central govt.organisation is as given below:

How much water does a person need per day?
Sr.No Usage Purpose Litres/person
1. Drinking 3
2. Cooking 4
3. Bathing 20
4. Toilet flushing 40
5. Washing clothes 25
6. Washing utensils 20
7. Gardening 23
Total 135

This is the suggested quota applicable to urban areas, while the quota applicable to the 4 metros is 150 litres. Litres used per person per day is known as “ litres per capita daily”(lpcd). I can say that it is possible to live with a quota of even 90 lpcd ( I have tried it out myself).

First measure your consumption

I have worked with a few RWAs who wanted to monitor water consumption and were willing to spend money to get some realistic data. The results showed that the actual consumption was anywhere between 200 to 450 lpcd!! Another interesting figure that became clear when doing these studies was that approximately 20 to 30% of the homes accounted for almost 80% of the consumption. Currently, RWAs charge each flat an amount for water useage which is simply total water useage & cost divided by number of apartments. In this situation, it is the careful, frugal users of water who subsidise the heavy users of water. This has lead to unpleasant confrontations amongst residents and created the awareness that water consumption to each and every apartment/villa must be monitored by installing a water meter for each flat and apartment.

Then improve

By installing Water Meters, association can mandate charges to be collected on actual useage using a slabwise tariff which makes it very expensive for users of large volumes (in fact such charges should be punitive and thereby penalise profligacy in water use). Single homes like the one I live in who get Cauvery water from BWSSB which gives a water connection through a water meter. Users have to pay for every 1000 litres of water consumed slabwise. Depending on the slab the rate per 1000 litres doubles and triples as the slab goes up. It is therefore highly essential that apartments spend the money that will be needed to meter the water supplied to each apartment. Better still, the state government should enact laws which make it compulsory for builders to design and install plumbing to supply water to every apartment with a single water meter.

I have on occasion given presentations on the water situation to certain RWAs who wanted to create awareness on water amongst their residents. After such presentations there is usually a question from some economically well off persons saying that they are prepared to any price to get water, but my reply has always been that such individuals are in a minority and that when the water crunch hits the city, water will not be available for love or money, so, once again I urge residents of this city to REDUCE their usage of water.

To be continued in Part-3.

About the author
S S RanganathanMr. S.S. Ranganathan, author of this series of guest posts, is a retired senior executive of Ion Exchange and currently a freelance Water Management Consultant based in Bangalore. His blog at “India Water Portal” explains the work he does in detail. He can be reached at +91-93437-34229.


This article aims at providing information for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely of Mr. S. S. Ranganathan and NOT of ApnaComplex or its representatives. We suggest to post your queries or comments below and Mr. Rangathan can answer them at his convenience.

Does Bangalore face a Waterless Future? – Part-1

ApnaComplex presents thoughts of Mr. S.S.Ranganathan, a retired senior executive of Ion Exchange and currently a freelance Water Management Consultant based out of Bangalore, on the Water Crisis looming in the City of Bangalore and the solutions that can adopted, especially by the Gated Communities.

Below is part-1 in the series of 3 parts of the thoughts.

Does Bangalore Face a Waterless Future?

There is a distinct possibility of this becoming a reality in a few years. In early 2010, I happened to see the front page of the Deccan Herald dated 27th March with the Headline “City may become unliveable in 5 years” (reference to the article) which appears to have been prompted by the elections to the BBMP which were about to take place the next day. The article was based on the Study by Indian Institue of Sciences’ Energy & Wetland group at the Centre for Ecological Sciences. Take a good look at what this study says under the heading “Ecological Degradation”. The statistics are mind boggling and, for someone like me, entirely realistic, I believe Bangalore does indeed face a waterless future, and, the worst affected will be the residents of apartment complexes and gated communities.

The number of calls I get from Residents Welfare Associations (RWA) has increased substantially over the last one year. In almost every case the Association has either bore wells with drastic reduction in water yield or which have gone dry. All of them have been forced to switch over to water supplies from water tanker operators, and, they are finding that the monthly water expenses of each family are as high as Rs.2000/- to 2500/- per month!

Worse still, after paying such high prices for water, they can not be sure of the quality of the water they are getting nor the quantity. Summer is here now and water demand will soar to dizzy heights. The result will be steady increases in the cost of water supplied by tankers. I am just re-stating what is reported frequently in newspapers and magazines, the water table in and around Bangalore has dropped drastically and will even turn the tanker operators’ wells dry.

Why are we in such a precarious Position?

In the year 1946, the water table in many parts of Karnataka and in Bangalore was just 8 metres below the surface. Today, practically all bore wells drilled are forced to go down to depths of 400 to 500 metres to find water in insignificant quantities. More often than not, bore well drillers find no water even after they reach these depths. Water pumped from such depths contains very high levels of minerals (known as total dissolved solids, i.e., TDS). These levels are beyond the acceptable limits as laid down in BIS-10500 which is the Indian Standard for drinking water. The cost of purifying this kind of water would be prohibitive. Add to this the electricity required to pump water from such great depths. The power consumption would be so high as to make the whole exercise economically unviable.

Bangalore is developing at a phenomenal rate and this means that population growth & built up area is increasing as rapidly and thereby preventing rain water from percolating down in to the ground to re-charge the water table. At the same time daily water demand is rising fast. A few years ago I had seen a report in the Newspapers about a study made by the Ministry of Water Resources that showed that 7 states in the country had exploited their water resources to a point of no return and Karnataka is one of them.

What can be done to improve the situation?

Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) is one thing that the entire area covered by the BBMP needs to put in place without further delay. The concerned authorities have done very little to make this happen, and, the government too is to blame for not having made RWH mandatory with severe penalties for not implementing RWH. Chennai and the whole state of Tamil Nadu had to implement RWH state wide or face severe penalties. This was the dicktat of the then Chief Minister and this has helped the state and very definitely the city of Chennai. Since it happens to be my home town and I visit it very often, I know that the water table is rising steadily. In 2009, after the rains, it had risen by as much as 5 metres, quite the opposite of Bangalore! I have seen wells where the static depth of water has risen and what is more, the quality of water has improved in many parts of Chennai and is now drinkable with just filtration or boiling to make it safe.

I believe our state Chief minister needs to emulate the former CM of Tamil Nadu and make it happen. I have been approached last year by many Resident Welfare Associations to help them implement RWH. Once they received proposals for installing RWH, they back off saying that it was too expensive. Little do they realize that when they have only tanker water left as a source, it will be so expensive that the cost of installing RWH will seem trivial in comparison. Tanker supplies will get costlier steadily as the water available for Bangalore becomes scarce.

In such a situation, I can only point out that the best thing to do is REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. There is simply no other option since there is simply not enough ground water that can be used, nor can we hope for extra water from the Cauvery since the quota of water awarded to Karnataka which included a specific volume of water for Bangalore which is being utilized fully. There is just no water to spare.

To be continued in Part-2 and Part-3.

About the author
S S RanganathanMr. S.S. Ranganathan, author of this series of guest posts, is a retired senior executive of Ion Exchange and currently a freelance Water Management Consultant based in Bangalore. His blog at “India Water Portal” explains the work he does in detail. He can be reached at +91-93437-34229.


This article aims at providing information for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely of Mr. S. S. Ranganathan and NOT of ApnaComplex or its representatives. We suggest to post your queries or comments below and Mr. Rangathan can answer them at his convenience.