On the verge of closure, Tirupur dyeing industry gets Rs 200 cr reprieve from govt

The industry was facing a financial crisis due to outstanding bank loans and incomplete projects.
On the verge of closure, Tirupur dyeing industry gets Rs 200 cr reprieve from govt
On the verge of closure, Tirupur dyeing industry gets Rs 200 cr reprieve from govt
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On December 26, 2016 at 6.26pm, BJP Tamil Nadu General Secretary posted a series of three tweets as follows:

Very happy to share - Central Govt. has today approved ₹200 Crores to Tirupur Common Effluent Treatment Plant. @nsitharaman @smritiirani

I thank PM Shri.@narendramodi |@NITIAayog CEO Shri.@amitabhk87 | Union Ministers Smt.@nsitharaman & Smt.@smritiirani wholeheartedly. 

PM Shri.@narendramodi Smt.@nsitharaman & Smt.@smritiirani their support to TN, especially for the development of Kongu Region is phenomenal.

The same day at 6.44pm, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani tweeted:

Grateful for the efforts of @PMOIndia @NITIAayog @amitabhk87 for resolving issues affecting the processing industry in Tirupur.

At 8.59pm, NITI Aayog’s official Twitter handle rolled out the following tweet:

On NITI Aayog's recommendation, ₹200 crore was released to Tamil Nadu for completion of Common Effluent Treatment Plants in Tirupur.

So what is this all about?      

Tirupur dubbed as “The Dollar City of South India” is a hub of the textile processing and knitting industry providing employment to over 5 lakh persons and contributes 22% of the total garment export of the country. For more than two decades now, Tirupur has a scar on its face because of the textile dyeing industries. Be it issues regarding environment protection or those related to employees working in textile and allied industries, there are so many issues that had been repeatedly brought to the attention of the Central Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly.

The Government of India has now sanctioned Rs 200 crore to the Tirupur Dyeing industry, which was on the verge of closure due to a severe financial crisis on account of their huge investments in the first ever Zero Liquid Discharge projects in the country. Closure of the processing industry could have hit the entire garmenting sector in the region. The Government of India has taken cognizance of this problem in Tirupur and based on the recommendation of the Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Finance has sanctioned Rs 200 Crore to the State Government of Tamil Nadu for the 18 Common Effluent Treatment Plants as an interest free loan to be converted into a grant based on the performance of the CETPs. The move will help ailing Common Effluent Treatment Plants and 450 dyeing units to recover from the financial crisis and will help them complete the project to achieve 100% capacity utilization.

More than 450 dyeing units in Tirupur had collectively set up 18 Zero Liquid Discharge enabled Common Effluent Plants with a total cost of Rs 1,013 crore. The project has become a global standard and was appreciated by environmentalists and the processing industry the world over. However, being the first project of its kind, it had several technical challenges and cost overruns which led to a financial crisis due to outstanding bank loans and incomplete projects.

Vanathi Srinvisan who was following up this issue with the Central Government said:

“There are more than 2000 dyeing and allied industries operating in and around Tirupur District. The industrial waste is diluted in Noyyal river, which leads to water pollution and environmental hazards. Around 450 units out of the 2000 have together installed 20 Common Effluent Treatment Plants to filter the industrial waste whereas the remaining let the waste directly into the river. According to the environmentalists, with recent technology advancements, there are equipment which filter the waste, and leave the soluble units in the river. Yet none follows this practice which has led to such environmental dangers. In 2009, the Supreme Court had pronounced that not a drop of industrial waste should be mixed with Noyyal river. But still, waste is injected into the river which has led to this sad environmental situation. The farmers in and around Noyyal belt, went further and filed a defamation case against the units, who had failed to obey the order of the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court later allowed only those units that had followed the rules to continue work, while the others were banned.  This further affected the small-scale units of the dyeing industry. These units did not have adequate funding to raise their standards and they wanted financial aid from the Central Government to follow the standards of the Pollution Control Board. 

The situation had become grim and the entire clothing industry of Tirupur might have been shut if the issues were not taken up by the Central Government.

Vanathi Srinviasan of NITI Ayog says, “The bigger scale units, have moved away to various cities and states to get their dyeing work completed. This is now a threat to the city of Tirupur. Will it be resolved? Will the Government hear the voices of Small Scale Dyeing units? Will the Government fund the needful? Will the lakhs of people survive beyond such failures? These questions were raised to the Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani, who were thoughtful about the process. At the same time, Government of Tamil Nadu had also raised the issue with the Central Government. There were many questions put forward, one such being, will the huge sum of Rs 200 crore be sanctioned for this issue at one stretch?”

Understanding the awareness of the criticality, for a period of four months, this issue was continuously put forward to the officials. On July 22, 2016, with a delegation from Tirupur, I met Amitabh Khant, CEO of NITI Ayog and had put forward a higher priority scale with the Government; I thank Nirmala Sitharaman wholeheartedly for facilitating this meet. Now for the betterment of the entire industry, the Government has finally sanctioned Rs 200 crore, she said.

Nagaraj, President of Dyeing Association, also has to be lauded for his continuous efforts.

(The writer is an advocate practising in the High Court of Madras & Vice President of BJYM (BJP Youth Wing) of Tamil Nadu.)

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