Demerits of Textile Industry in India

This article is written by Agniv Chatterjee. 

The textile industry is a conglomerate of related businesses that produce fabric from a range of natural (cotton, wool, etc.) and synthetic fibres. It includes both small- scale and large-scale operations globally and makes a significant contribution to many national economies.

The textile business has always used a lot of energy, water, and chemicals. Operations involving dyeing and finishing consume around 60% of the energy.

The two main sources of pollution are natural impurities removed from the fibre being treated and the chemicals employed in processing. Effluents are often warm, alkaline, strongly scented, and coloured by dyeing process chemicals. The textile industry, in spite of having a lot of positive aspects, does have a few shortcomings. Some of the demerits of the textile industry discussed in the post.

Spinning mill
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1. Shortage of raw materials and Low productivity of labour

35% of the overall cost of production is determined by raw materials. Cotton is in low supply in the nation, especially long-staple cotton that is imported from Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Tanzania, the United States of America, and Peru. It is unfortunate that despite having the largest amount of cotton planted (26% of the world's acreage), the country only contributes 9% to global cotton production. Low production and illnesses in the mills are caused by fluctuating prices and unpredictability in the availability of raw materials.

In comparison to 1,500–2,000 spindles and 30 looms in Japan, an Indian industrial worker typically only manages 380 spindles and 2 looms. If an American worker's productivity is assumed to be 100, the analogous figure for the UK is 51 and for India is merely 13. Additionally, there are poor labour relations throughout the nation. Strikes, layoffs, and retrenchments are frequent occurrences at the nation's cotton mills.

2. Noise pollution inside the manufacturing plants

The textile sector has acknowledged noise as the main concern to workers and employees. Unwanted sound, or noise, can interfere with a variety of textile industry operations. No matter how long or how loud the sound is, noise is still bothersome. The sound can be heard by humans up to 130 dB. Machine gearings are the main source of the noises. Therefore, the textile sector needs a low noise level.

The main source of noise pollution is air compression and suction. The textile sector has a high noise level due to the gearing of the machines, or transmission of motion. High noise levels during carding are caused by the licker's faster speed. Due to their rapid drafting systems and change mechanisms, draw frames make a lot of noise. Building mechanisms produce significant noise in a conventional speed frame as a result of differential motion. Dropbox motion in weavings causes significant noise levels in the textile sector due to shedding action, picking motion, beat up, and additional loom attachments such as pirn shifting mechanisms. 

These are the primary reasons behind the textile industry's excessive noise levels. The workers are immediately impacted by the noise pollution. Up to 80 dB of noise has a physiological impact, and between 90 and 100 dB causes irreversible hearing impairment. Concentration is lessened by the employee or employees. Sleep is being disturbed. When working, spoken communication is challenging or impossible. The blood pressure rises, the heart beats more frequently, and the metabolism is impacted by loud noise. As a result, the textile sector should minimise its noise levels.

3. High wastage

The textile industry is infamous for its widespread resource waste, particularly water. Textiles is the second biggest polluting industry. Five per cent of all global landfills is being taken up by dumped textile waste. With the aim of lessening their impact on the local environment, the more advanced businesses are minimising their water usage, modifying the chemicals they use in dying processes, and reusing water for two or more procedures.

Pre- and post-consumer waste are two general categories of textile waste. The pre-consumer waste is made up of materials from the garment industry's products, whereas post-consumer garbage is made up of materials from homes. Waste from previous consumers is recycled since it is utilised for embroidery. Bales are created by gathering fibre waste. These bales are shipped to various enterprises where they are utilised to create felted textiles, a non-woven material. Some of the fibres are employed in the fashion industry. Therefore, one of the key issues for the textile industry is waste management.

4. Health issues

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common musculoskeletal illness among Textile industry workers. Workers are also frequently afflicted by forearm tendonitis, lower back discomfort, neck pain, shoulder pain, and osteoarthritis of the knees. Repetitive motions and uncomfortable ergonomic settings are the root causes of each of these ailments. 

Although these problems are more frequent in developing countries, they can also happen in the American clothing sector. Cotton workers have their own issues with exposure to large levels of cotton dust, along with soil and chemical particles. Byssinosis, sometimes referred to as brown lung is known to induce chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath can be fatal and can be brought on by this exposure.

Related post:  Safety and hazardous atmosphere in the textile industry

5. Use of Hazardous Substances

The textile Industry uses various types of harmful chemicals and processes for its different processes. There is a chance of mixing the different gases in the ambient air when singeing since the floating fibres are eliminated by burning. By using different chemicals, such as NaOH, to reduce the fabric's size paste. The fabric still contains natural impurities after desizing; these impurities are eliminated using a hot alkaline solution.

Different kinds of dyes are employed. The process of dyeing uses a lot of acids, ionic chemicals, alkaline solutions, and enzymes and is the one that exposes the most harmful materials. To make a fabric more lustrous, several chemicals are employed during finishing. Therefore, these are the processes that directly depend on chemicals, which are mixed with water.

This industry's usage of solvents produces a variety of health risks, including cancer. As a result of exposure to the harmful substance in the water bodies, Typhoid, cholera, jaundice, fever, and other water-borne illnesses takes place among those living near textile mills. Air pollution is caused by harmful materials being exposed to the atmosphere. For workers, air pollution causes respiratory illnesses, lung cancer, and heart diseases.

Moreover, long-term brain and nerve harm can also occur to the workers. When processing chemicals, foul odours mingle with the air, which will limit worker productivity.

6. Infrastructure bottlenecks

The poor quality of Indian Infrastructure implores serious setbacks in the textile industry in India. The majority of the cotton textile factories in India use outdated equipment. Over 60% of the spindles in India, according to one estimate, are older than 25 years. Compared to the global average of 62% and 100% in the United States, automatic looms only makeup 18% of all looms in the nation.

Because of low output and poor quality caused by outdated machinery, Indian textile products are unable to compete in the global market.

Both industrialization (economic activity across borders) and globalization have had a significant impact on the textile industry (integration of supply chain activities). This necessitates the immediate requirement for infrastructure expansion and process standardization investments.

7. Low productivity

The lower productivity level is one of the primary factors limiting the expansion of India's garment sector in the face of escalating global competition. India's textile factories produce comparatively little in comparison to Bangladesh, China, and Turkey.

The garment industry needs to be supported with the newest technologies and processes, which are more effective than the conventional ones, in order to improve this situation. As we have seen, the Indian government is taking a number of policy initiatives to strengthen the competitiveness of the Indian apparel industry in the international apparel market, in addition to its foreign policy and emphasis on the "Make in India" campaign.

But there are still many issues that not only prevent the sector's expansion but also have an impact on the strategic viability of the nation's minor players in the garment industry.

8. Lack of skilled labour

More than 70% of Indian workers are either illiterate or have only a rudimentary education, which is a severe disadvantage. As a result, individuals are unable to explore their employment options or are oblivious to opportunities to develop their current abilities.

To start the rise of skilled labour, the government must implement specific policy measures. Everyone should have access to proper education, and vocational education and training should be encouraged. 

The textile industry will be able to enhance output by using the skilled labour produced by the training program to raise productivity. Providing local residents with training in textile manufacture will also aid in creating job prospects in rural areas. The lack of skilled and properly trained labour for the production of these products would be a barrier to the expansion of the Indian textile sector on a worldwide scale.

9. A fragmented industry

The Apparel Industry of India is highly fragmented in nature as about 95% of it is unorganized. Thus when compared to China and the USA, India does not have as many significant fabric makers. Additionally, weaving units in India are often smaller than those in China. 

Due to the fragmented nature of the industry, when compared to other major fabric producers, there is a lower yield due to a lack of contemporary manufacturing equipment and worker skill levels.


About the Author: Agniv Chatterjee is pursuing his graduate degree from the Department of Textile Technology, Government College of Engineering and Textile Technology, Serampore.

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