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

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”