After lying low for two years, the Tirupur industry is making a strong comeback, with most players confident that all the issues which have been ailing the industry have been addressed with long-term solutions. Doing export of around Rs. 12,000 crore per year, Tirupur has been struggling to retain buyers in the wake of issues like zero liquid discharge, power and labour scarcity which had forced the industry to take two steps backwards in its growth projectile. In the ensuing period, the region has seen huge investment to convert ETPs and CETPs into zero discharge units, many power projects have been initiated and fresh efforts are being made to increase labour availability, on top of that the hope that the FTA with Europe will surely come through this year are enough reasons to pep up the industry. In a recent visit to the knit city, Team Apparel Online talked to many industry watchers on realities at ground zero…
In the final count, 150 dyeing houses out of the total of around 680 dyeing houses that Tirupur originally had, have eventually closed down as they were unable to fund the latest technology to achieve the pollution standards as set out by the court. As of now 400 units are working and rest will be operational in the next six months. The biggest development is the shift to low liquor ratio machines, as in starting these dyeing/process houses were using 150 litre of water for one kg fabric, but now for the last six months they are using only 30-40 litre of water for the same fabric. “The Tirupur industry has already invested about Rs. 1,000 crore in the latest technology to be more environment-friendly and in the coming fiscal year we expect another round of investment of Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 crore rupees,” says S. Nagarajan, President of Dyers Association of Tirupur.
The association has 18 CETPs (Common Effluent Treatment Plant) with a total capacity of 98 MLD (million litres per day). Out of these, 2 plants are using 70 per cent of their capacity, 2 are utilizing 40 per cent capacity while the rest 14 are using 15 to 30 per cent as of today. Since these 18 CETPs have successfully demonstrated the ability for zero liquid discharge, the pollution control board has given them permission to use more of their capacity and now all these CETPs are trying to be fully operational. On the other hand, the 55 IETPs (Individual Effluent Treatment Plant) passed by the pollution board are using 100 per cent capacity.
Though the pollution issues are now under control, a new problem in the form of increased cost is bothering the dye houses, as the running cost of the new treatment systems include electricity, which accounts for about 50 per cent in their total costing, while in the cost of running the dyeing houses, electricity accounts for only 10 per cent of the total cost. Due to lack of power supply, the dye houses the are using generators and they claim that they are passing on only 50 per cent of increased cost to the garment manufacturers and bearing 50 per cent cost themselves. Further, the new technology of processing and treatment systems makes final garment almost 5 per cent costlier.
Association claims that since no country in the world is using such kind of zero liquid discharge technology, the city is now seeking ‘Green Tag’ status so that the buyers will be more attracted towards Tirupur.
Power is still a big problem for the Tirupur garment industry but with the coming of many power projects in the next 1 to 1½ years, the industry is positive. Yet again, with many workers leaving the industry in recent times for other industries, the city was hit by severe labour shortage in the last two years, but some enterprising new manpower agencies are now offering migratory labour from UP, Bihar and Orissa. However, it is a matter of concern that local workers and younger boys/girls are losing interest to join the garment industry and private training institutes are also seeing fall in enrollment of fresh students in garmenting courses. V. Sekar, running the SIHMA Institute of Fashion Designing Apparel Training says, “It is true that migratory labour is coming here but I am worried that fresh youth is not willing to work in garment industry. The industry should increase its efforts to create interest in youth.” Many companies are now focusing towards worker-friendly environment and creating good working condition to attract good workers.
[bleft]For a total garment export of Rs. 12,000 crore, one requires facility of 27 million litres per day (MLD) effluent treatment, assuming that 40 litres of water is required for 1 kg of fabric. Tirupur has enough capacity of 39 MLD (allowed average 40% capacity of 98 MLD coming from 18 ETPs) and 11 MLD coming from 55 IETPs using full capacities.[/bleft]
Enough orders; expansion is in the air
While the industry at large admits that orders are now coming to Tirupur, domestic market is increasingly drawing in more manufacturers from the region. In the meanwhile, many companies in Tirupur are working on their expansion plans. Some are in the process and some will execute in the coming months. These companies are installing circular knitting, stitching machines and few are also going for process houses. Sumit Nayar, Director of Indiana Textiles Mills, Tirupur having 12 circular knitting machines is adding 8 more such machines. “Our innerwear brand is doing good business in India and we also export 25 per cent of the innerwear production. We are planning to invest almost Rs.1 crore to enhance fabric manufacturing capacity as we supply fabric to one top innerwear brand also,” says Nayar. This two-decade old company totally outsources its stitching from Tirupur and Kolkata.
Many other companies are also having similar plans, like Ravi Chandran, Director, Telabs Apparel having 80 machines at the moment is planning to expand in the near future. Bodyland Garments having 190 stitching and 10 circular knitting machines is looking to install 4 elastic making machines soon. Tetra Kniits is currently making men and women uppers, will start a new product category of innerwear in next 4 months. Initially the company will add one line of almost 40 machines and later will add more, informed S. Gunasekaran and Balakrishnan, partners of the company. The bigger companies like Eastman Clothing and SP Apparels are also moving ahead with expansions.