Shutdown in Rajasthan hits Ichalkaranji’s textile units

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July 28, 2015 KOLHAPUR: Ichalkaranji-based textile units producing grey cloth are facing a major problem as its client units in Rajasthan have shut down since May for allegedly violating pollution norms. At least 30-40% cloth produced in Ichalkaranji is supplied to Rajasthan-based Balotra area where it is processed in a particular way.

As many as 739 textile units in Balotra were shut down following the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) orders. This has created a major problem for Ichalkaranji-based units that produce one crore meter cloth every day.

Satish Koshti, president of Ichalkaranji Powerloom Weavers' Association, said, "We have the capacity to produce one crore meter cloth daily and we were doing so till April. Then in May, the NGT ordered to shut down over 700 textile processing and other units in Balotra, which are clients of Ichalkaranji-based powerloom units. The cloth texture depends on its processing, drying procedure and printing. Now, almost 30-40% of the cloth produced in Ichalkaranji has no takers since then."

On this backdrop, the production activity in these units has been lowered by 30%. Now, the powerloom industry has sent a letter to the local BJP MLA Suresh Halwakar urging him to look into the matter and provide some solution, as the party is in power in the state as well as the Centre.

Koshti said, "We have expressed our concerns to Halwankar. We are hopeful that he will find some solution. We cannot produce the cloth just to be stored in our godowns and await lifting of the ban on the textile units in Rajasthan. We don't have that much financial stability. Hence, we have scaled down the production. However, running a factory below its production capacity is a costly affair as well."

The cloth produced in Ichalkaranji is supplied to Balotra, Bhiwandi (Maharashtra), Ahmedabad (Gujarat) and Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) for further processing. Each area processes the cloth in a different way that lends variety to the final product. The quality also depends on the weather conditions of those areas, Koshti said.

Vinay Mahajan, a senior trader from Ichalkaranji, said, "The cloth made in Ichalkaranji is being supplied to these areas since the last 50 years. Now, the business is suffering because of unsold long pieces of cloth. We are in a dilemma whether to continue production. Even if Balotra-based units start operating, they will not process more cloth than their capacity. The major challenge is to deal with low market for the finished products. The garment and apparel market is sluggish at present. Hence, there is no growing demand."

When asked about the estimated cost of blocking the supply and distribution chain, he said, "The amount is in crores. We have produced the cloth but the traders have not purchased it; their purchased cloth is not being accepted by the Balotra-based units. As these big payments are stuck, the companies are also facing problems to make employee payments and carry out maintenance works."

On May 16, the Jodhpur circuit bench of the NGT ordered closure of 739 textile units in Balotra and its surrounding areas. As per the joint inspection report of the Central Pollution Control Board and Rajasthan Pollution Control Board submitted in the court, the common effluent treatment plant (CETP) has not been functioning in adherence to the norms. The NGT also ordered the trust operating the CETP to renew the consent to operate the plant and obtain hazardous waste disposal authorization from the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board.

The next hearing of the case is scheduled on July 31.

Production activity

* Ichalkaranji has 1.25 lakh powerloom units for cloth production

* Daily 1 crore meter cloth is produced in these units

* Around 30-40% of the cloth produced goes to Balotra in Rajasthan.

* The supply chain has been functional since the last 50 years

* The production activity in these units has been lowered by 30%.

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