Regulating Effluents From India’s Textile Sector: New Commands and Compliance Monitoring for Zero Liquid Discharge


Jenny Grönwall
Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI),
Box 101 87,
SE-100 55 Stockholm, Sweden,


Anna C. Jonsson
Division of Environmental Change,
Department of Thematic Studies,
Linköping University,
SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden


In 2016 large parts of India had experienced failing monsoons for two consecutive years. Textiles production was a natural target in the quest for solutions when re-distribution of water between sectors became imperative, and it seemed likely that the zero liquid discharge (ZLD) approach would be mainstreamed nationwide. However, when amended standards for discharge of effluents were enacted it was without strict requirements for reuse of water in-house; the legislator chose to make ZLD applicable only to large units and refrained from making it mandatory. The carrying capacity of the environment in sensitive or otherwise critical areas may henceforth be taken into account by the executive, but the textile sector’s wastewater is not yet regarded the resource that a circular economy calls for.

This paper examines the command-side of regulation by shedding light on the applicable law, the reform steps taken in 2014–16 and how judicial interventions influenced these. It also seeks to contribute to the understanding of enforcement control by discussing what role court-established committees are playing in implementation and monitoring of compliance, based on an in-depth case study of Tirupur, India’s ‘knit city’.


Command-and-control, implementation gap, textile, Tirupur, zero liquid discharge.             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893