RIVER LUNI

Wa­ter for vil­lagers plum­mets, re­ports

Tehelka - - RAJASTHAN - PRAKHAR JAIN

us­ing tube-wells. Narayan Che­laji (44), a farmer, says, “We used to grow wheat and ba­jra in our farms, but the wa­ter level has gone down, from 20 ft in the past to more than 200 ft. Now, we are de­pen­dent on the sea­sonal rains for what­ever lit­tle we want to cul­ti­vate. Else, noth­ing grows here.” So, how ex­actly was the river killed? The textile busi­ness in Balo­tra first started as a house­hold tie-and-dye in­dus­try, prac­tised by Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties, from the 1950s on­wards. Slowly, other com­mu­ni­ties picked up the trade and be­gan pro­cess­ing tex­tiles in huge quan­ti­ties. When the in­dus­try started grow­ing in size, the Ra­jasthan State In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment and In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion Lim­ited ( RIICO), brought them to­gether in an in­dus­trial area in 1975. From then on, the pro­cess­ing units have con­stantly in­creased in num­ber over time, through phase II and III of the in­dus­try be­ing es­tab­lished in 1983 and 1995 re­spec­tively.

Af­ter the third phase was es­tab­lished in 1995, the to­tal num­ber of units in­creased from 180 un­der phase I, to 400 un­der phase III, in Balo­tra alone. Dur­ing that pe­riod, the in­dus­tries also saw a ma­jor shift in the use of chem­i­cals. In­stead of nat­u­ral veg­etable dyes, chem­i­cal dyes be­gan to be used by the in­dus­tries to meet the in­creas­ing de­mand. The reper­cus­sion was the in­crease in the de­mand for wa­ter to process the raw fab­ric. Thus, a need for al­ter­nate, wa­ter-abun­dant area was felt and the nearby vil­lages of Ja­sol and Bithuja

• Cost of pro­duc­tion The multi-crore fab­ric pro­cess­ing busi­ness in Balo­tra (le) has dumped toxic sludge in the dry riverbed of the Luni

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