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Dying,printing units in ‘dry’ Rajkot battle for survival

The industry banks heavily on water and a truant monsoon means uncertain fate for 2 lakh workers.

Written by Express News Service | Rajkot |
August 21, 2012 5:16:17 am

The industry banks heavily on water and a truant monsoon means uncertain fate for 2 lakh workers

Dying and printing industry in Jetpur town of Rajkot district,one of the oldest and largest clusters of printing units in India,has become the first causality of water scarcity in the Saurashtra region.

While lack of rains has increased the cost of production for most of the industries,this cotton textile industry banks heavily on water to run and the crisis has put a question mark on the fate of over 2 lakh workers who are now finding now less work due to falling production in the over 1,000 units that make block prints for cotton garments.

“I have packed my bags to go. Instead of eight,my working hours have decreased to less than half as production is constantly on the fall,” says Raju Prasad,who hails from UP.

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There are some 20,000 non-Gujarati migrant workers employed in these units.

“Workers have started leaving. But it is just the beginning,so scale of migration is still low,” says Chitan Joshi,secretary of Jetpur Dying and Printing Units Association. “Over 1,000 units at Jetpur require some 1 crore litres of water daily. At present,the availability is less than 40 per cent,which has hit the production in the industry that has an annual turnover of over Rs 1500 crore.”

The industry,which is more than 50-year-old,does not get water supply from the state government but largely depends on underground water. All units have their own bores.

Mainly,the units export printed cotton material to African countries,where it is used in traditional wear of Khanga and Kitanga.

“About 30 per cent of these units,which are located in old city area,still have water available in bores. But the bores have gone dry at the new site in the city’s outskirts where most of the units are located now,” Joshi said.

The industry,which has also been battling pollution issues,was recently indicted by the High Court for releasing untreated water in Bhadar river.

“In case there are no rains for 15 days or so,the industry will need a dedicated source,be it Narmada or even sump water. Current sources won’t last long,” said the association.

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