New tech may help reopen Tirupur textile units

Arun S. New Delhi | Updated on August 29, 2011 Published on July 20, 2011


TN Water Investment Co devises way to recycle hazardous waste

A new indigenous technology of recycling the hazardous waste generated by dyeing units in Tirupur could help one lakh-odd people get back their jobs in factories at India's knitwear capital.

The technology that can help reopen the closed units has been developed by the Tamilnadu Water Investment Company, a partnership between the Tamil Nadu Government and IL&FS.

An estimated one lakh workers had lost their jobs following a Madras High Court order directing the closure of the dyeing units that were allegedly discharging hazardous effluent to Noyyal river.

The Court ordered that these units cannot function till they find a way to achieve ‘zero discharge' of water pollutants. Around 730 units in Tirupur have been shut since January consequent to the implementation of the order.

The new technology helps in taking the effluent (brine solution containing water pollutants) back to the dyeing units for further use in dyeing of apparels. This helps not only in ‘zero discharge' but also in saving energy as otherwise one would have to waste electricity in evaporating the effluent.

Mr A. Sakthivel, President, Tirupur Exporters Association, told Business Line that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) will, by the end of this month, file a report on whether this new technology is a workable solution.

The TNPCB has already allowed one of the 18 Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) in the area to use the technology on a trial basis. If it results in ‘zero discharge', the technology will be permitted to be used by other ETPs and the units attached to them, Mr Sakthivel said. The entire process is expected to take around three months.

The technology costs around Rs 9-10 crore per CETP, he said, adding that the plan is to make this work on a Public Private Partnership mode. Already around Rs 1,200 crore has gone into the setting up of the CETPs and individual ETPs.

Around 560 of the 734 units were functional units before the court order. Of this, 486 were dyeing units, while 74 were into plain bleaching. The bleaching units are not affected as their discharge is not considered hazardous. Of the 486 dyeing units, 83 are individual units with their own ETPs and the rest come under the Common Effluent Treatment Plants.

The TNPCB report will be considered by a Committee under the Textiles Secretary, Ms Rita Menon. The Committee comprises the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary as well as members from the TNPCB and the State and Union Finance Ministries.

Interim solution

Meanwhile, the Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, said on Wednesday that the Committee will work on interim short-term solution to reopen the closed textile units.

Mr Sharma held discussions with the Environment Minister, Ms Jayanthi Natarajan, on Wednesday in this regard. He added that the Committee will also work on an enduring long-term solution to the issue.

Exports from Tirupur knitwear units were Rs 12,500 crore in 2010-11, up from Rs 11,800 crore in the previous fiscal. But the profits of exporters had fallen due to high cotton and yarn prices as well as transportation costs.

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Published on July 20, 2011
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