Over 700 textile units engaged mainly in dyeing and bleaching business have been shut since January 2010 on a Madras High Court order. The court ordered the closure of the units, saying these were polluting the Noyyal river flowing through the textile city.
According to the Tirupur Exporters’ Association, the closure has led to a loss of Rs 1,000 crore per quarter in apparel exports, while around 15,000 jobs were lost.
Headed by textile secretary Rita Menon, the committee will explore ways to revive the shut units with financial assistance. It will review the technological gap and the financial help required to upgrade the common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) that have come under the scanner.
“We have conducted various technology gap audits and reviewed the financial situation. We feel it is important to help the CETPs. There are 18 of those we have identified for revival. This would require a capital investment of Rs 8-12 crore per CETP, and we have already got a dispensation from the finance ministry in the last budget for Rs 200 crore,” Menon told Business Standard. It takes three to four months to upgrade a CETP to its 50 per cent dischargeable capacity and 10 months for cent per cent dischargeable capacity.
According to Menon, who recently visited Tirupur to assess the situation, the main problem lies in recycling and reusing salt water for the dyeing process and eradicating sludge in an environment-friendly manner. The chief secretary of Tamil Nadu and officers of the state pollution control board are also members of the committee that was set up last month.
“The state government has also assured us that they would cooperate with us in this, along with the associations in Tirupur. It would have to be done in partnership amongst the Centre, the state government and the entrepreneurs because truly there is a gap. Our aim is to achieve zero water pollution,” she said.
The government is also looking at establishing an overarching monitoring body at a later stage, with wide-ranging stakeholders, that would be responsible for the effective implementation of policies and would channelise resources allocation properly.
Earlier, minister for commerce & industry and textiles Anand Sharma had said the government was trying to find a way to revive the industry because a large number of people had lost their livelihood because of the closure of the textile units.
According to the Tirupur Dyeing Factory Owners’ Association, the technology in the installed plants is imported and new to its knowledge, which is why it was not able to treat all the effluent. On the other hand, the Noyyal River Ayacutdars Protection Association said it would not allow the plants to function until and unless these facilities achieve zero liquid discharge.
The Supreme Court had earlier given the units a deadline of January 5, 2010, to achieve zero discharge and pay compensation for damaging the area’s ecology till April 2010. The order was given in 2009. However, the court had noted some units were still allowed to function, while no action was taken.