Is "Hi Flying" Kitex complaining to divert attention from pollution control issues?


Kerala is unique in several ways. Kerala is industry-favourable and yet, is cognisant of its duties towards conserving biodiversity.

So, while promoting manufacturing and other heavy industries, the State has to be ecologically sensitive to the preservation of the environment, which includes safeguarding its natural resources, it's lakes and rivers, forests and wildlife, and to the prevention and reduction of pollution which protects its citizens from sickness. 

Kerala's Vision is: To transform "God's Own Country" into a vibrant entrepreneurial society through inclusive, eco-friendly and sustainable economic growth. 

Environment apart, Kerala is one of the more investment-friendly states. It has single window clearance for new businesses and pledges an atmosphere for sustainable and innovative industries to thrive. Kerala has of late been emphasizing the development of knowledge-based industries such as IT, tourism, computer hardware and bio-technology. 

Kerala's manufacturing sector has also increased in terms of value. Kerala's share in gross value added by India's factory sector increased from 1.2 per cent in to 1.5 per cent in the last few years (Annual Survey of Industries).

The share of manufacturing in Kerala's GSVA (Gross State value added – an economic productivity metric that measures of the State's contribution to GDP), increased in a period of 5 years ending in 2019-20, from 9.8 per cent to 12.5 per cent. 

Seven new laws and 10 amendments to existing laws have been enacted to ensure "ease of doing business" and to make the state industrial-friendly, resulting in Kerala having made considerable progress in key parameters such as digital connectivity and skill development.

Given Kerala's population density and the emphasis given to tourism and ethical manufacturing. Special encouragement is given to Eco-friendly and Green initiatives in both existing and in new enterprises. 

     The recent stand-off between the promoters of KITEX industries, an export-oriented manufacturer of children's garments may involve some posturing on behalf of KITEX., The entrepreneur accuses the State government of India of regulatory high handedness and business unfriendly practises. Also inside sources suggest that there are old business rivalries at play. Kitex has had an ongoing feud with Benny Behanan, the local Congress MP. Local sources on Youtube have suggested that his proxies could also be needling the regulatory authorities to act against Sabu Jacob, the outspoken and politically ambitious CEO of Kitex. 

There appears to be clarity on the side of the State government: Kerala's industrialisation effort is to create an eco-system where economic activities can be undertaken in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Being a naturally green State, promotion of green industries is the imperative for the State. 

The “Kerala model of development” seeks reconciliation of social, productive and environmental objectives at the local level, and tries to develop synergies between civil society, local governmental bodies and the state government. 

 While the company, KITEX, does have an active, well formulated and well-run CSR program, it has been spending its CSR funds to subsidize local political activity. Kitex does care for the welfare of its staff and takes more than adequate measures towards their welfare, the fact remains that the Textile/garment industry is highly unfriendly to the environment. 

"The textile industry is considered as ecologically one of the most polluting industries in the world. The issues which make the life cycles of textiles and clothing unsustainable are the use of harmful chemicals, high consumption of water and energy, generation of large quantities of solid and gaseous wastes, huge fuel consumption for transportation to remote places where textile units are located, and use of non-biodegradable packaging materials. 

Sabu Jacob has many supporters and there is no doubt that he is a capable man who has done a lot of good for the community. His supporters say that he also has state of the art pollution control technology in place. What exactly is going on there, nobody really knows and Sabu Jacob does not want pollution control inspectors to visit.

The overall impact on the environment by a textile product or process may be best assessed by life cycle assessment (LCA) which is a systematic scientific approach to examine the environmental impacts of the entire life cycle of a product or service." Asim Kumar Roy Chowdhury KPS Institute of Polytechnic.

According to CHRON in an article headlined "What Kinds of Pollution Do Textile Factories Give Off?" All textile factories in the United States face intense regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency. Textile factories are second only to agriculture in the amount of pollution they create and the voluminous amounts of water they use. For example, it takes approximately 500 gallons of water for a textile factory to produce the fabric needed to cover only one sofa. It also takes over 2,000 chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens, to turn raw materials into finished fabrics. 

Water Pollution - The toxic chemicals used to create textiles are major sources of pollution from textile factory operations. Fabrics are washed and rewashed as they move down the production line. Releasing this untreated chemical wastewater brew can pollute waterways and groundwater sources.

Air Pollution - As textiles move through the production process, numerous life-threatening pollutants left untreated can contaminate the air. Factory boilers that heat the water release nitrous oxides and sulphur dioxides. Carbon monoxide is released from factory sizing operations. Fabric-finishing operations can release formaldehyde into the air. These toxic vapors would remain suspended in the air and be carried by the wind to pollute other areas.

Solid-Waste Pollution - Textile manufacturing operations create large amounts of toxic and nontoxic solid waste. Fibers, hemp, yarn and fabrics are solid waste that are created directly from production lines. The cones, looms and cardboard reels used to hold fibers and textiles during manufacturing add to a factory’s solid-waste pollution. Common toxic-solid waste pollutants include the storage drums and plastic containers used to hold hazardous chemicals and solvents. Leftover powdered dyes and dye containers, scrap metal, oily cloths and wastewater sludge can contaminate the soil and groundwater sources if not properly treated and released.

click here for the Chron article

Kerala has "put in place a set of regulations (and institutions) and organizations for the conservation of its natural environment". 

The “Kerala model of development” has won wide international attention for its achievements in regard to social development and, to a certain extent, environmental sustainability, seeks reconciliation of social, productive and environmental objectives at the local level; tries to develop synergies between civil society, local governmental bodies and the state government. This model thus holds important lessons for participatory, community-based sustainable development in India and elsewhere". The “New” Kerala Model: Lessons for Sustainable Development Authors: Véron René University of Lausanne

Saving and protecting the ecology, environment and biodiversity of the land, protects human life - Kerala has thus set out on a path where the long-term benefits of protecting the environment and all the people of the State is more important than short term welfare measures for a few. The land’s well-being is central to the well-being of human life. Compromising these vital values for short term business advantage may not be in "God's Own Country's" interest.

Written by Pratap Anthony, Edited by Pravin JP Arapurakal


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