Karur evolved as one of the strongest centres for handlooms and power looms. Today it is famous for the variety of home fabrics including bedspreads, bed covers, window curtains, mosquito curtains and has built exports of such materials exceeding Rs 2000 crore. The Karur Textile Park Ltd set up at a cost of Rs 130 crore, is one of the best facilities in India with several technical and ancillary units.
Karur also evolved as an active centre for manufacturing: it houses the 4 lakh tonne capacity Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Paper Mills, EID Parrys Sugar mill at Pugalur and the 1.7 million tonne unit of Chettinad Cements. It has also earned a name for building bus bodies.
Dying dyeing units…
The textile industry of Karur, spread over hundreds of small and medium units, thrived on cheap costs of dyeing. At one point, there were more than 500 dyeing units. When norms for pollution control and environment safeguards were tightened, around 450 of the dyeing units closed down. Just around 60 of these have managed to survive conforming to the stringent environmental norms.
One such is the Navarang Dye Works founded by M Subramanian some four decades ago. The unit earned a reputation for quality. M Thiyagarajan, Partner, pointed to the extensive facilities for treating the effluents ensuring zero discharge from his factory. Of course, it did involve a good deal of expenditure. But Thiyagarajan said that the sprawling system adapted and steadily improved, helped recover expensive chemicals and also recycle the large quantities of water used. The treatment spread over different levels include anaerobic, aeration, decolorisation and reverse osmosis processes. It indeed was a sight to see the turbid and multi-colored effluent shedding the solid waste and colour in different stages and emerging clear and fit for reuse.
Navarang Dye Works appears a model for effectively treating effluents. Thiyagarajan described the tough but satisfying journey thus: “a zero discharge facility involved considerable capital expenditure. There were also doubts about the viability of the investments and in convincing customers for higher rates. We successfully negotiated with our clients. We convinced them by providing a separate invoice for ensuring zero discharge of effluents.”
Thiyagarajan explained that enforcement differs from state to state. There is a need for uniformity of enforcement.