Skip to main content

Cheap Made in India T-shirts sold in US, Europe "contributing" to water pollution crisis in India, warns "Newsweek"

Counterview Desk
In a scathing critique, top US journal “Newsweek” has warned American and European consumers that if they were wearing T-shirts with the 'Made in India' tag – bought from Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart or other malls – they should know they might have “contributed” heavily in a “water pollution crisis that has destroyed almost 30,000 family-owned farms” in India.
Competing with their counterparts in Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, China and Bangladesh to sell T-shirts that cost as low as $5, Indian T-shirts are made mainly from the Netaji Apparel Park, situated in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupur, known as India’s ‘Knit City’, whose “rivers are often red or purple with runoff from nearby factories”, it said.

What is happening in Tirupur, says the journal, is just a replication of the “near critically polluted waters like Bangladesh’s River Buriganga and Cambodia’s Mekong River”, where “life-sustaining farms are dying, potable water has become toxic and locals are now at great risk for serious illness, all as a result of industrial-scale clothing manufacturing.”
Authored by Adam Matthews, the “Newsweek” cover story (August 21) says that “at the core of this environmental and health disaster is the poor state of regulatory institutions throughout much of South and East Asia”, where environmental preservation is “often trumped by the need to provide a business environment that can compete with more corrupt countries.”
Titled “The Environmental Crisis in Your Closet”, the article points to how “American taxpayers have played a key role in turning Tirupur into a manufacturing powerhouse.” It all began in 2002, when the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) loaned $25 million to the government of Tamil Nadu and a local clothing industry group, the Tirupur Exporters Association, to finance a new water-delivery system.”
“Newsweek” quotes a 2006 press note issued by the US consulate in Chennai as praising the USAID saying how before the American intervention, the local industry “was running out of water, a critical input for dyeing and bleaching.”
While the “USAID project, which piped in clean water from a stretch of the Noyyal in a nearby farming region, helped the local industry boom” and between 2002 and 2012”, as a result of which “US knitwear imports from India jumped from $571 million to $1.25 billion”, “All that growth has had devastating consequences for the environment and people living in the area.”
Thus, while the textile sector has boomed, those who grew “rice, banana, coconut and turmeric” have suffered loss of livelihood. “There is no cultivation of the land, no income”, the writer quotes a farmer as complaining. “The small-scale agriculture lifestyle that characterized the region for centuries has fully collapsed.”
There are now “abandoned brick homes painted light blue and topped with red tile roofs dominated the main square”, he says, adding now, “over 60 villages have been transformed into ghost towns.”
While a nearby dam was “supposed to update agricultural irrigation practices in Tirupur”, the situation by mid-2000s reached such a point that “the water was so saturated with chemicals, salts and heavy metals that local farmers were petitioning the Madras High Court—the highest court in Tamil Nadu—to not release the water into their fields”, the article says.
There has been adverse effect on health on locals because of the “toxins downstream”, it says, adding, a health camp by local doctors “found that about 30 percent of villagers suffered from symptoms—including joint pain, gastritis, problems breathing and ulcers—connected to waterborne diseases.”
“A 2007 study by a local nongovernmental organization found that Tirupur’s 729 dyeing units were flushing 23 million gallons per day of mostly untreated wastewater into the Noyyal River, the majority of which collected in the Orathupalayam Dam reservoir. When officials finally flushed the dam in the mid-2000s, 400 tons of dead fish were found at the bottom”, the article adds.

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).