Case Study On Environmental Degradation In India

The rapid economic growth achieved after globalization by most of the developing countries, has imposed considerable social costs and has become a major threat to sustainable development. However it is also extremely important for developing countries to achieve a high level of economic growth to mitigate their socio-economic problems. But the major challenge here is to ensure development in a sustainable manner by achieving a proper trade-off between environment and development. This paper attempts to operationalize sustainable development strategies using a case study of Tiruppur, a major textile cluster in India. The textile industrial growth in Tiruppur is discussed in the context of global diversification of textile manufacturing and trade with emphasis on employment, income and foreign exchange in regional economy perspective. Since the environmental issues of textile industries are associated with bleaching and dyeing, an inventory of all processing units was prepared for analysis include water consumption and effluent discharge. The existing pollution management efforts through IETPs and CETPs and economics of production and pollution control costs were estimated for different size of units for understanding the burden of pollution abatement. Environmental impacts of pollution were analyzed with the help of physical data on ground water, surface water and soil quality. The economic value of the damage (social cost) was estimated for different sectors like agriculture, fisheries, domestic and industrial water supply. Different economic and environmental indicators of Tiruppur industry over the period 1980-2000 and the reasons for the environmentally unsustainable industrial growth of Tiruppur are provided. The paper concludes with some policy recommendations and recent development in Tiruppur.

This paper examines the development and environmental aspects of the textile industry at Tiruppur, a major textile cluster in India. Adopting a sustainable development framework, it focuses on the growth of Tiruppur’s textile industry in the context of global diversification of textile manufacturing and trade.

The paper shows that the export boom in Tiruppur has led to serious damage to the environment. To some extent the over-all economic benefit of the industry has led to the neglect of the environmental costs. However, the environmental cost borne by the downstream communities who have no connection with the industries is a major concern. The physical environment (ground water, soil, river, ponds, and biodiversity) of the entire region may be losing its ecological value in an irreversible manner. Among the major causal factors are:

  • the processing units are in the small-scale sector and hence the affordability of pollution control is a problem.
  • the failure of institutions such as the State Pollution Control Board, Industrial Organizations, NGOs and local governments to find an effective solution to the problem.
  • dependence of the processing units on the traditional method of processing which consume more water and chemical, and generate more effluent.

The author makes the following policy recommendations to address the problem:
  • de-reservation of hosiery from the small scale industries sector
  • introduction of cleaner production technologies
  • changing the present practice of imposing full cost of pollution management on dyers, and sharing of the responsibility by the entire textile value chain
  • introduction of economic disincentives such as effluent taxes
  • public-private-partnership project for industrial waste management
  • application of natural dyes


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