Water for villagers plummets, reports
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