The government has issued a draft notification on norm to control the pollution caused by the textile industry wherein it has directed the sector to adhere to the ‘Zero Liquid Discharge’ (ZLD) norms which essentially means that a factory recycles all effluents and doesn’t release even a drop into the environment.
According to the notification, all textile units – dyers, cotton or wool processors, integrated factories – that generate over 25 kilo litre effluents daily must install Zero Liquid Discharge effluent treatment plants.
Water recycled by these plants will be reused. The units won’t be allowed to draw groundwater except to make up for the shortfall and for drinking, as assessed by the respective State Pollution Control Board or the Pollution Control Committee.
After the notification is approved, the units will have 30 months to set up the treatment plants. They won’t be allowed to operate if they fail to comply. The units that already have effluent treatment plants will be required to make them ZLD compliant. Until upgraded to ZLD, the existing treatment plants will follow the “effluent discharge standards as specified in the Environment Protection Rules, 1986”.
As per the government there is a strong need for ZLD as the textile industry is a heavy polluter, so much so the courts have had to close some factories, including at Vapi in Gujarat and on the banks of Noyyal River in Tamil Nadu in 2011.
Mostly, the pollution is caused by untreated or partially-treated effluents from the units released into streams, rivers, oceans. It destroys the water quality of these water bodies and also contaminates aquifers.