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The enormous environmental price of the knitwear industry

Written by Doushali Jogeeah

Image Source New India Express

Tirupur is the largest supplier for the knitwear industry both in India and the overseas market, making a significant 80% of the total exportation.

More than fifty buyers from different countries purchase their knitwear from Tirupur, as a result of the quality of its macro-economic environment, its climatic conditions that facilitate easy processing of fibre due to Tirupur’s low precipitation and high temperatures. As well as the access to raw materials and cheap labour. Consequently, due to its high popularity and rapid growth in the last two decades, knitwear has created a various number of jobs and roles within the industry, making it the highest employable sectors to work in [1].

However, the success story of the knitwear industry is short-lived when considering the disastrous environmental impacts, it causes when producing products. With over 730 dyeing units used for bleaching and dyeing, knitwear is ranked as the highest contributor in generating hazardous waste. The 90 million litres a day of discarded dyes and chemicals are disposed of by landfills or into the Noyall River, which leads to serious contamination to the surface water and soil surrounding Tirupur [2].

The Noyall River has paid the enormous environmental price of the knitwear industry, as the bleaching and dyeing units have destroyed vast areas of agricultural land the water body once sustained. Farmers residing within the radius of the Noyall River have alleged that the water pollution has seeped into the riverside fields and groundwater, resulting in severely affecting agricultural land, and disrupting the livelihoods of thousands of farming households [3].

The current practice of disposing the bleaching and dyeing units irresponsibly is evidently unsustainable and will worsen the already severe conditions of pollution and environmental damage it has caused so far. Therefore, action is needed immediately to defer the environmental effects before they get progressively worse. According to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), the most effective technology option for zero effluent discharge and recycling of wastewater is Reverse Osmosis, which is the process of purifying water through a semi-permeable membrane to remove unwanted contaminants and molecules [4]. Although this methodology is a huge financial commitment, it will lead to sustainable procedures when discarding the harsh chemicals and avoid causing more detrimental effects to the environment.

[1] Jayanth Sarathi, N., Karthik, R., Logesh, S., Srinivas Rao, K. and Vijayanand, K., 2011. Environmental issues and its impacts associated with the textile processing units in Tiruppur, Tamilnadu.. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 August 2021].

[2] Buvaneswari, G., 2011. Tirupur Textile Units,Environmental Issues of Textile Industry At Tirupur, Tirupur Textile Factory. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 August 2021].

[3] Deshpande, N., 2020. India's Textile City of Tiruppur is an Environmental Dark Spot. [online] The Wire. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 August 2021].

[4] 2018. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 August 2021].

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