Indiscriminate use of poor quality fugitive pigments by the majority of the Kalamkari production units here has posed a major threat of contamination of water table.
Dozens of Kalamkari production units have come up in the tiny town since early 2014 to meet the huge demand for the textile products across the country, replacing the natural process and colours with fugitive pigments. Recently, the civic body with the support of the revenue and police has banned washing of the fabric, on which the pigments mixed with kerosene are applied, in the Ramaraj Canal and the Krishna river across the Krishna district.
Finding no alternative sources, the units are releasing the waste water into the local open storm water drains in the town, leaving the water table contaminated with toxic effluents. Ironically, there has been no source to let the water out from the Pedana town since 1980s and the locals release the water into the nearest agriculture fields or vacant places.
A Detailed Project Report for the proposed ₹52-crore drainage project for the town is pending with the Municipal Administration Department.
Harmful for groundwater
“The waste water from the households or Kalamkari units in our town stagnates in the open drains. The use of pigment or chemical colours in the Kalamkari industry is a cause of worry for us as it will have an adverse impact on the water table,” Pedana Municipal Commissioner T. Nageswara Rao told The Hindu .
Banglore-based research scholar Meera Curam puts it: “The poor quality pigments and other ingredients such as kerosene used by the Pedana Kalamkari units is an unnatural process. The existing practices are harmful to the groundwater table as well as workers who are exposed to those pigments.” Ms. Curam is an expert in natural colours and is conducting research on natural colours being used in textile art forms.
A recent investigation by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board has warned that the water in which fabric with pigments is washed is not advisable to purify for drinking water purpose. In 2013, the Kalamkari art (Machilipatnam Kalamkari) has been registered in the Geographical Indications (GI) Registry. Using chemical pigments instead of natural colours extracted from listed plants and herbs is a blatant violation of the GI guidelines.