Water is a cross cutting issue pervading deep within the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of India. The demand of the resource makes it susceptible to competition and conflict at all levels i.e. between states (water being the “state subject”) and between various sectors (industries versus farmers or cities versus rural areas) and also within the irrigation command area. The level of dependency on the resource has increased at such immense rate that in coming decades it’s demand is expected to exceed the utilizable potential. In fact, the current rate of demand has poised India into the category of “water stressed” countries having per capita availability below 1700 cu. meters. and in coming future is expected to even fall under the category of “water scarce” countries with per capita water availability below 1000 cu. meters.
Amongst the growing demand from various sectors, the water requirements from the industrial sectors as per the CWC data has almost doubled during the last decade and is expected to increase seven fold by 2050 as compared to the levels in 1997.
The textile sector happens to be amongst the top industries in terms of water consumption. With processes such as ginning, spinning, weaving and processing (from de-sizing, scouring and bleaching through dyeing and printing to finishing), the amount of water consumed along the entire supply chain and the direct operations is huge. This water demand is not only limited to the withdrawal at the facility level for general operational purposes but spreads deep across various basin and sub basin levels. For instance, the industry happens to be highly dependent on the agricultural sector for it’s raw-material, such as cotton, which in itself is a water-intensive crop. The growing water demand of the textile industry at each step of its entire life cycle thus cannot be seen operating in isolation.
Besides these huge water requirements at various stages of processing, the textile industries further aggravate the situation by not treating the waste water properly which then leads to many further issues posing significant risks to the society and ecosystem and also disturbing the water-food-energy nexus.