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546 Indian Textile Units Slapped with Closure Notices for Pollution

Hundreds of textile factories in Pali, India have been persistently polluting local waterways and, despite receiving closure notices from government agencies, are continuing operations as usual.

According to The Times of India, the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board (RPCB) has done little to quell the pollution.

In March, India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT), an organization dedicated to handling environmental disputes, tried to take action and, without the necessary approval from the RPCB ordered the closure of 546 textile units for dumping non-treated chemical effluents into the local Bandi River and the Nehra dam. Those textile units were supposed to suspend all operations, but instead flouted the notice and carried on. At this time, only 64 units have “consent to operate.”

The “consent to operate” is intended to be mandatory for operating any industry that is potentially polluting the environment. NGT got involved when local farmers filed a case seeking relief from the damage caused by the polluting factories.

Mahaveer Singh Sukarlai, who led the Sri Kisan Paryavaran Sangharsh Samiti farmers group and filed the petition with NGT, said, “A group of officers came for site inspection after the court order, but we have not got any relief. The board had sent a team of three people to survey and scrutinise records of the industrial units and submit a factual report. Since the March order, the factories were shut only for 22 days during Holi,” according to The Times.

If the order could ever be enforced, it stands to affect 80 percent of the almost 600 dyeing and printing units in Pali, The Times noted.

The RPCB, in apparent disregard for the NGT’s efforts, recently renewed operating consent to three out of four common effluent treatment plants (the fourth still has one year remaining on its existing consent order).

Sukarlai told The Times, “Water samples taken from the four CETP showed heavy metals in the discharged water. The CSE pollution monitoring laboratory has also confirmed that. Now without any compliance, three CETPs’ ‘consent to operate’ that was expiring on March 30 has been extended for three more years, just two days before the expiry date.”

The pollution in Pali has been going on for years and farmers have been steadily seeing their fields destroyed because of the textile chemicals in the water. If all the violating factories are shuttered, 20,000 workers dependent on their textile jobs in Pali will be displaced, so the industrial town is desperately seeking official aid for the smooth functioning of the sector, The Times reported.