Things changing for good on the pollution front; 16 CETPs, covering 420 dyeing units, have obtained TNPCB permission

It is now two years since the Madras High Court delivered a landmark judgment ordering the closure of dyeing and bleaching units in the Tirupur knitwear cluster for polluting the river Noyyal for decades.

The order was pronounced solely because the dyeing fraternity did not adhere to the zero liquid discharge (ZLD) norms despite the directions from the Supreme Court and High Court.

Fears disproved

Contrary to the fears expressed at that time in certain quarters, the closure of dyeing units has not altered much the industrial prowess of the cluster as the export turnover and sales from domestic sales did not dip during the last two years.

During 2011-2012, the value of apparel exports from the cluster stood at Rs. 12,500 crore, showing no decline in relation with the previous year’s exports.

This was primarily because dyeing units liberally sprang up from makeshift locations, both within the cluster and in the hinterlands illegally. Another reason was that a section of apparel manufacturers took the fabrics to other clusters to get it dyed.

According to Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, over 200 such illegal units were identified in Tirupur as well as the nearby districts of Namakkal, Erode and Salem. On the pollution front, things are changing for good. Sixteen Common Effluent Treatment Plants, covering 420 dyeing units, have obtained the requisite permission from the TNPCB after they modified treatment facilities and installed systems conforming with ZLD norms. What is interesting was that the same dyers had claimed that there was no technology to attain ZLD. The president of the Dyers Association of Tirupur, S. Nagarajan, is optimistic of the future.

Apart from making efforts to fall in line with the ZLD norms, the Association has applied for a green tag status from European countries so that fabrics dyed in Tirupur will get premium prices. “Now export orders are also picking up significantly,” he adds.