Times of India

Exposure to Chemicals Used in Jeans Dyeing Units Can Affect Human Health, Says Government

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by Vishwa Mohan

Representative image.
New Delhi: The government on Tuesday told the Lok Sabha that the exposure to chemicals used in textile dyeing units can affect human health and the civic authorities would take action against any such industries operating in residential areas in the Capital.
Responding to a Parliament question on illegal jeans dyeing units in the north-east Delhi’s Shiv Vihar areas, reported by the TOI in May, the Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan said, “Whenever any unit operating illegally is brought to the notice of State Pollution Control Board/Pollution Control Committees, action as per rules is required to be taken for closing of such industries”.

The minister, in his written response, admitted that it does not have count of such illegal units in residential areas in the country, including inventory of such units in Delhi.

He said no inventorization of jeans dyeing factories operating illegally in residential areas had been undertaken by the environment ministry or the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The minister noted that the textile dyeing has been categorized as ‘Red’ category (highly polluting) industry which is required to obtain consent to establish/operate from concerned State Pollution Control Board or the Pollution Control Committee.

The TOI had in May reported about discharge of carcinogenic chemicals by cloth dyeing units, highlighting how the untreated effluents are even contaminating ground water which is the main source of drinking water in the area.

Responding to a question on the steps being taken by the government to check the pollution caused by dyeing factories, Harsh Vardhan said the Delhi government had directed that action would be taken by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) against industries operating in residential/non-conforming areas in violation of the Master Plan of Delhi.”In order to check pollution from dyeing industries, effluent standards for textile sectors have been notified under the provision of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 which has prescribed standards for Chromium, Phenolic Compounds, Colour etc”, he said while admitting that the exposure to these chemicals, exceeding prescribed limit, can affect human health.

Taking suomotu cognisance of the TOI’s report, the Delhi High Court had earlier asked the CBI to probe the entire issue of the illegal jeans dyeing units and find out the complicity of officials, if any, in allowing such units in those residential areas. The CBI subsequently started its probe after registering a case on last Friday.

Acting on the TOI report, even the Union water resources ministry had in May directed the city health department to conduct a detailed study on the health impact of the dyeing units operating in the Mustafabad locality of north-east Delhi and extent of ground water contamination in the area, if any, due to these industrial units.
*This story first appeared on Times of India

New Indian Technology for Waterless Tanning can Save Rivers

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With its breakthrough technology on waterless tanning for leather processing, the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) expects to save the rivers from the toxic chromium and sulphates effluents mixed in over 170 million litres of water every day.

The CLRI, part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), applied to patent the technology in 2014. It now has a “product” and a “process” for waterless and salt-less tanning, that would save water and the environment.
“To treat one kilogram of animal skin and hide about 50 litres of water is used. It’s required to wash the salts used by the tanners at primary stage to preserve the leather, making the effluents hazardous. With the dry tanning technology this would stop,” B. Chandrasekaran, Director CSIR-CLRI, told IANS.

He said that CLRI offers “Dry Tanning” as a product and another “Waterless Chrome Tanning” as a process, that requires training the tannery workers for using salts for preserving the animal skins at primary processing level.

The CLRI technology uses a conventional drum-tanning method, in which instead of lime and water, a CSIR’s patented additives are mixed. That saves water and also helps reduce the solid waste produced by lime and other chemicals.

“The technology reduces the water effluents by 90 to 95 percent,” said Chandrasekaran.

The CLRI, which is now being approached by leather companies across the globe to procure the technology, has also prepared a detailed project report (DPR) for Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where the largest number of tanneries are located in India.

“We have been contacted by several domestic tanneries and a big MNC that had offered Rs2 crore for the this technology,” he said.

Kanpur has over 23 percent of the country’s tanneries and uses about 20 million litres of water every day. Most of this untreated effluent flows out through over 23 major open drains into the Ganga river and are the major cause of its pollution.

“A DPR for Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) for Kanpur is being finalised. The main problem is that only a few tanneries in Kanpur treat the effluents,” he said.

There are also several unauthorised tanneries in Kanpur region and about 100 were closed two years back.

Those operating water treatment plants only give primary treatment to the used water. According to environment activists, there is no proper monitoring of such treatment plants. According to green activists, it is a similar case with the tanneries of Kolkata and Tamil Nadu.

*This story first appeared on The Times of India



World’s cast-off capital goes from riches to rags

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The famous textile recycling industry of Panipat is heading for shutdown. Where will that leave the West’s sartorial spillover?

Losing ground: Shoddy blankets are being edged out by polyester ones, which are cheaper, warmer and last longer. The number of shoddy textile units in Panipat has come down to 150 from around 700 in 2012.
Losing ground: Shoddy blankets are being edged out by polyester ones, which are cheaper, warmer and last longer. The number of shoddy textile units in Panipat has come down to 150 from around 700 in 2012.

It’s hard to imagine that the coarse grey woollen blankets issued to the rural poor could conceal a shred of Chanel or a fibre from Fendi. Unknown to villagers, high fashion – removed by several industrial processes, down an inverted value chain – sits heavily on their shoulders.

Of all the ironies inherent in recycling, this is most piquant: discarded wool and acrylic clothing from the West is converted into yarn in India and woven into blankets, blazers and shawls that find their way to the poor, to people affected by disaster, to the army, to school children, and even to passengers on the railway.

It’s the working of what’s called the ‘shoddy’ industry in Panipat. This historic city in Haryana is in fact the global capital of textile fibre recycling. Every year, about 1,44,000 tonnes of mutilated worn clothes and textiles that are trashed by America, Europe and parts of Asia – and dock, via containers, at ports in Mumbai and Kandla, in Gujarat – are purchased by Panipat’s shoddy manufacturers for recycling.

Signs of the trade are everywhere – trucks piled high with clothes lumber down gritty gullies towards recycling units, beyond whose gates are passageways lined with textile scraps and loose buttons. Further in are cavernous warehouses, where women sort the clothes into colour families of reds, browns, greens, etc. Labels, zippers and buttons (resold at 25 paise a kg) are separated from the fabric, which is then shredded on mounted scythes to collect strips of solid colour. Three tonnes of fabric produce around 1.5 tonnes of yarn, which is woven back into shoddy fabric. The labour is divided: women sort and strip, men work the shredding and carding machines. Impressively, textile recycling put Panipat on the global map.

But the city’s historic battlefields are now witnessing another turf war – between ‘shoddy’ yarn and polyester. Polyster, which makes a cheaper, lighter, more supple blanket, is starting to edge ‘shoddy’ out of the textile stakes, leaving shoddy yarn manufacturers with dormant carding machines, mountains of untouched clothes and a depleting workforce.

“There were around 600 to 700 shoddy yarn and textile manufacturers in Panipat up until 2012; now there are barely 150 units,” says Rajneesh Baweja, whose company Mehak Handloom Industries is hanging by a thread. “I may have to shut down next year.” Baweja’s company was set up by his father, a migrant from Pakistan’s Punjab, in the early ’80s, around the time entrepreneurs started cashing in on the West’s sartorial spillover.

“Around 30,000 to 40,000 kg of old clothes came into my factory every day; now it’s 80,000 kg a month,” complains Baweja, who says he doesn’t have the heart to sack his 25 workers (down from 100), even as unsold blankets pile up. A few years ago, organizations like the UN, non-profits, governments, the army, hospitals and even prisons bought shoddy blankets, but it was disasters that made the industry a killing. “At the time of the 2001 Bhuj earthquake, around 10 lakh blankets were picked up from Panipat. During the Nepal earthquake this year, four to five lakh sold,” Baweja says. “But you can’t run a business on the back of a crisis alone.”

Businessmen like Surinder Gupta are planning to sell their machines in scrap. “Some have shut shoddy units and started manufacturing polyester blankets,” he says. The odds are in favour of synthetic. A 1.5 X 2m polyester blanket weighs 300 gms and costs Rs 70; its shoddy counterpart weighs 1.5 to 2 kg and costs Rs 100. Polyester lasts about 3-4 seasons; shoddy probably two.

Not surprising, during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods Venkat Velagala, a disaster risk management consultant in Delhi, dispatched polyester blankets to the hills. “They’re warmer, lighter and easier to transport, which matters when you’re covering inhospitable terrain,” says Velagala.

Anil Spinners’ new polyester mill has a daily production capacity of 7,000 kg. “We design the blankets ourselves,” says Manav Goel, the 27-year-old son of Ashok, the proprietor who believes the future, with polyester, is bright. At his old, ailing shoddy factory, as women sit around scythes, mechanically slicing coats and trousers, jackets and shirts, Goel says casually, “Gap, Armani-sharmani – they’re all here.”

But not for long. Observers fear the recycling business will grind to a halt in less than a decade. “In 2010, the production value of our shoddy industry was Rs 90 crore a month. Now it’s Rs 35 crore,” says Pawan Garg, president of the All India Woollen & Shoddy Mills Association. “The industry imported around 800 containers of mutilated clothes a month; now it’s down to 300 (each weighing about 25 tons).”

Even the Bureau of International Recycling, headquartered in Belgium, is concerned. “The decline of Panipat as an industry will impact the recycling of worn clothing to a huge extent. Export will be diverted to other countries like Pakistan, China, Morocco, Kenya and Tanzania. But they have very small recycling industries,” says Mehdi Zerroug, president of the BIR Textiles Division, on email.

More than 30% of the world’s manufactured clothing is recycled. Some of it is converted into yarn, while the balance is utilized by the cleaning industry. “If this industry were to close it would be a very big problem globally as there would be more of this material going into landfills, adding to the problem of pollution,” Zerroug warns.

Now, Panipat’s labour force – which used to number around 90,000 in its heyday – is also retreating home to Bihar and UP or seeking jobs elsewhere in Panipat. “We’re worried about the future,” admits Manju Rahman, a shredder at Shankar Lal & Company. While there will be work in the new polyester factories, being far less labour-intensive, they’ll absorb less than a quarter of the shoddy workforce.

Even as an estimated 5,000 tonnes of clothes sit idle in this city, people like Baweja believe the shoddy industry can never entirely be snuffed out. “Governments will still want to distribute our blankets during polls,” he reckons, “They’re heavier and carry the weight of a politician’s promise.”

*This story first appeared on Times of India.

India’s National Green Tribunal shuts 739 textile units in Rajasthan

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Source: Jaipur Travels
Image Source: Jaipur Travels

JODHPUR: The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) circuit bench of Jodhpur has ordered the closure of 739 textile units in Balotra and its surrounding areas of Jasol and Bithuja till July 9. It has also ordered the trust operating the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) to renew the Consent to Operate the plant and obtain the hazardous waste disposal authorization from the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board.

The orders by the tribunal comprising judicial member UD Salve and expert member DK Agarwal followed a joint CETP inspection report by the Central Pollution Control Board and Rajasthan Pollution Control Board submitted in the court on Friday in pursuance of the order by the tribunal on March 19.

The report said that the CETP has not been functioning in adherence to the norms laid by the pollution control boards as far as the Consent to Operate and disposal of hazardous waste of the industries is concerned.

The joint report has also recommended installing adequate capacity RO plants immediately with a view to reuse the treated water in the member units and procure land for the evaporation of RO rejects.

A report had been submitted to the Central government by the CETP trust but the trust has not received sanction for the same. Keeping this in mind, the tribunal has also directed the MoEF to expedite the process so that the CETP trust could install the plant sooner.

Besides the tribunal has also directed the “Prabodhan Samiti”, chaired by the district collector to regularly monitor the CETP and address shortcomings with regard to its operation and compliance of the rules.

The tribunal has also sought an affidavit from the district collector to the effect that the water being used by these industries is not being drawn from the areas notified as Dark Zones.

A similar report on the sources of water to the textile industries in Jodhpur and Pali has also been sought by the tribunal on Thursday. This report is to be submitted on July 9.

Besides, the tribunal has also ordered closure of those units in Pali, which have been operating without renewal of Consent to Operate from the Pollution Control Board.

**This post first appeared in Times of India here.