Environmental Perception of Textile Industrial Pollution in Tiruppur, India

- C. Thomson Jacob, Jayapaul Azariah
Department of Zoology, University of Madras, Guindy campus, Madras - 600 025. India

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 7 (1997), 162-5.


Environmental perception is "the human awareness and understanding of the environment in a general sense of the term" (Whyte, 1977). A perception study brings out the man-environment relationship in which human individual and collective understanding of the environment is seen as a major force in shaping the environment through the action of man's choice and behavior. Human perception of the environment is so fundamental that it becomes the main focus for analysis of the human-environment relationship. Environmental ethics is a new and emerging field of science which emphasizes a balanced attitude to human-nature relationship. In the Indian context, nature is considered as mother and hence she is treated with respect and reverence. With the same idea, it would be useful to evaluate the social perception and ethics of impact of industrialization and improper waste disposal in the Tiruppur environment.

The purpose of carrying out perception studies is to identify the conflict between groups, and to resolve the conflict between them. Development of various systems of ethics stems from the human need to create an unified and universally applicable method of getting along. The major concern with many ethical theories is first to determine what is good and second what is right. In addition it becomes necessary if the ethical theories are to have any utility, to strive towards what has been determined to be good and right. Once we decide that a system is correct, then we should live by the conclusion derived from the system (Peirce, 1982). The selection must therefore, occur within only a few generations and the change must be on two levels: the individual and the system. The individual must change his character or ethics and the social system must change to become compatible with global ecology (Kozlovsky, 1975). Since the industrial booming has led to ecological doom of Tiruppur, the present study was carried out.

Method

The present investigation was made by using adaptable method for field investigation of environmental perception (Whyte, 1977). The questionnaire was prepared by referring to the environmental response inventory (ERI) of McKechnie (1974). The scaled questions were put in the form of statements to which the respondents could show their degree of agreement or disagreement with the scale value. The scale used in the present study is a 5 point scale (Appendix A). These grades pertain to the environmental perception of the individuals, the questionnaire was tentatively classified under 13 a priori factors . All the statements under each a priori factor were shuffled and framed into a forty seven items in the questionnaire(Appendix A1). The questionnaire was administered individually to 503 individuals, age ranging from 15 - 64 years of both sexes. The sample consisted of 50 industrialists, 152 workers, 36 housewives, 136 students, 54 educationalists, and 61 others.

Factor analysis was used to find out the major factors which constituted the perception of Tiruppur. Final factor scores were computed after obtaining an acceptable factor solution. Ten factors were extracted by the factor analysis of the data collected by using the "Environmental Perception Scale" which consisted of 47 items. The factor loading of all the 47 variables were examined and arranged in a hierarchical order. ANOVA was computed to find out the differences in environmental perception between the six groups, in each of the ten factors. Student t - test was carried out to find out the differences in perception between the groups.

Results and Discussion

Ten factors considered as significant after varimax rotation, were taken for consideration, and higher factor loadings are tabulated with respective values in descending order. Results clearly indicated that the perception of Tiruppur ecosystem by various groups, like industrialists, workers, housewives, students, and educationalists, indicated that all groups agree that there is a pollution problem in Tiruppur. In the factor analysis, 10 factors have emerged. Out of 10 factors, Factors I, II, III, V, VI, IX, and X showed significant values among the six groups studied. But factors VI, VII, VIII did not seem to bring out any significance among the Six groups studied. These groups did not differ in their perception as for as these factors are concerned. The reason may be that all six groups agree on these factors. Factors IV, VII, VIII speak about conduciveness or suitability of environment for the economical upliftment of Tiruppur, extinction of agriculture and management of pollution problems which are common factors familiar to even lay persons. Since these groups are connected with the study area they have better perception of these factors, so they do not seem to differ in their perception. Housewives and students seem to differ in their perception on some of the factors from that of the industrialist, workers and educationalists. Many people in Tiruppur did not realize the consequences until it was too late to solve.

FACTOR I- DEROGATION: Factor 1 reveals that the Tiruppur environment is deteriorating because of industrialization. It clearly indicated that people from all the groups are accepting the fact that the ecosystem stability is lost because of industrialization. Other variables in this factor speak about skin disorder like eczema, death of domestic animals after consuming the effluent water from River Noyyal and political callousness, pollution of ground water and the, construction of Orathupalayam Dam to arrest flash floods have lead to the stagnation of the effluent which has deteriorated the whole ecology of Tiruppur. Among the six groups studied there is very little difference in the perception between industrialists and workers with the other groups. However, the housewives and industrialists differ from students and others. Virtually every group agrees that there has been derogation in the environment of Tiruppur.

FACTOR II - UNWITTING: Due to the insufficient infrastructural facilities and the environmental pollution coupled with social non-communication, the urban environment in Tiruppur is slowly deteriorating. Pollution in all modes like soil, water, and air is rampant. Transportation of cotton from mills is causing severe air pollution. The narrow roads which are filled with dust, paved the way for traffic congestion leading to health hazards like asthma, pleural bronchitis, and sinusitis to the local people. Polluted water brought water born diseases. From this factor- impact on health it is very clear that the entire atmosphere in Tiruppur is not conducive for healthy living. The quality of education was lost because of industrialization. People in Tiruppur are interested in money making ,they showed very poor response in the field of education. The land is over exploited without any environmental concern; their only aim was minting money. In factor II, housewives seem to differ markedly from the other groups. Students also expressed some difference in perception about unwitting.

FACTOR III -BEFITTING: Factor III speaks about the desirable climatic condition and human power that has led to the industrial development in Tiruppur. This factor also mentions about the precaution to be taken to manage the increasing pollution. The recycling of industrial water and the ecofriendly technology are the alternative methods to reduce the pollution load.

FACTOR IV - CONDUCIVE: Factor IV speaks about the environmental conduciveness or suitability which earns a foreign exchange revenue of Rs. 25 billion per year, has uplifted the Tiruppur economy, but the infrastructural facilities are not progressing at the rate of economic growth. This clearly indicates that there has been improper management and unplanned construction of industries. Factor IV was accepted by all the groups

FACTOR V - AVARICIOUSNESS: Factor V speaks that the industrialists in Tiruppur are concerned about the economical development and not about the health of the ecosystem. This results in the multiplication of industries and the cultivable agricultural lands are converted into industries. This increases the use of child labour. Among the groups, industrialists and the workers have same perception, but students and the educationalists differ in their perception about the development of industries. Industrialists and workers are not accepting the fact that they are responsible for the deterioration of Tiruppur ecology. They don't like to accept the fact that they are the groups responsible for this degradation. In the name of industrial development, their concentration centres around the economic gain and not towards the loss met by the ecosystem.

FACTOR IV- ATTRACTION: Uneducated, and unemployed youngsters are attracted towards the dollar city to earn money. This enhances the population density beyond the carrying capacity, which means homeostasis or ecobalance is upset. To avoid such a crisis due to over crowding in industrial zone, a proper urban management plan should be created outside the municipal area . Almost all the groups have the same perception about attraction. Surprisingly, only workers (Who are supposed to be the attracted group) differ in their perception from housewives and students.

FACTOR VII - EXTINCTION OF AGRICULTURE: Textile Trade brings a lot of dollars to people who are attracted towards dollars. Hence, the agriculturist becomes an industrialist. The effluent released from the industries have affected the yield of coconut trees and cotton plants. As a result cultivation is rapidly vanishing. Almost every group has accepted this factor.

FACTOR VIII - MANAGEMENT: To bring back the ecorestoration of Tiruppur, the industrialist should go in for some alternative technology. Treatment plant should be constructed outside the town to reduce the pollution load, and there should be a third party organization to monitor the pollution load. Awareness should be created among the people. This factor was accepted by all the groups.

FACTOR IX - INDUSTRIAL BOOM: Two decades back, the soil of knitting city was used extensively for agriculture, and the bore well water in Tiruppur municipal area has been used for bathing, washing and drinking. The abundance of raw materials for the hosiery units has attracted several textile industries into the city. This paved the way for the people to live above the poverty line, and at the same time the industrial growth gradually resulted in the poisoning of ground water and soil. It is not the industrial growth that caused this problem, but it is because of the improper management of the industries that has resulted in poisoning of ground water, and soil. Only the students seem to be have a totally different perception from all the other groups, possibly because they are more concerned about the future consequences of the town.

FACTOR X- DOOMING ECOLOGY: The flora and the fauna of Tiruppur are gradually vanishing because of rapid growth of industrialization. The ecological niche of the animal kingdom is affected, because of the industrial boom. The aves and domestic animals die after consuming this poisonous chemicals released from the industries. This has resulted in a significant reduction in biodiversity. Almost all the groups of people showed their difference of opinion in their perception, like that of Factor III, and Factor IX. This is due to their lack of environmental awareness. Housewives, and students expressed very different views from all the other groups, in their perception.

Conclusions

One of the main objectives of the present investigation is to study the conflicting perception of the six user groups and suggest remedial measures for the sustainable environment. In the factor analysis, Factors I, II, III, V, VI, IX, and X showed significant values among the six groups studied. But factors VI, VII, VIII do not seem to bring out any significance among the six groups studied. These groups do not differ in their perception as far as these factors are concerned. The reason may be that all six groups agree on these factors. Factors IV, VII, VIII speak

about conduciveness or suitability of environment for the economical improvement of Tiruppur, extinction of agriculture and management of pollution problems which are common factors familiar to even laymen. Housewives and students seem to differ in their perception on some of the factors from industrialists, workers and educationalists. Many people in Tiruppur did not realize the consequences till it was too late.

The protection and management of ground water, one of the most valuable natural resources, is emerging as a major public concern in India. The present study clearly shows that the ground water samples studied in Tiruppur do not meet the drinking water standards. The water resources of Tiruppur have been depleted because of contamination by wastes. Once ground water is contaminated it is difficult to restore it to its initial quality. This calls for proper treatment, disposal and management of wastes. But the industrialists who are responsible for the deterioration of ground water purity have not initiated schemes to treat or manage the wastes because they lack social consciousness.

It would not be ethical to sacrifice the future in the interest of the future generation to benefit the present. Rapid growth ultimately may lead to the degradation of environmental quality in a town like Tiruppur. The result of the present study reinforces the concept that indiscriminate use of the natural resources for the production of consumer items for economic gain is unethical. To bring back the ecorestoration of Tiruppur, the government should bring strict legislation on pollution standards. Also speed up the process of "Ecological Authority" under the section 3 of Environmental protection Act (1986) to implement the "Polluter pays principle" means the polluting industries should pay for the damage caused to the Environment.

References

Kozlovsky, D. (1975) An Ecological and Evolutionary Ethics, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc..

McKechnie George, E. (1974) ERI Manual, Environmental response Inventory, Palo Alto, California: Psychologists Press. (INC).

Peirce, J. and P. Aarre Veselind (1982) Environmental Engineering Ann Arbor Science publishers, Michigan, pp. 565-577.

Whyte, A.V.T. (1977) Field Methods in Guide lines for field studies in Environmental perception, MAB. Technical Notes. 5. Published by UNESCO, France.

Appendix - A: Questionnaire On Perception Of Pollution In Tiruppur

Fill in your name and other particulars requested above. (Data gathered was: Name, Age, Sex, Marital status, Education, Occupation, Income, Address). Record your response to each item in the questionnaire in the square with the matching number. Use the five response categories. As far as possible avoid being neutral. [Strongly agree - 5 ; Agree - 4 ; Neutral - 3 ; Disagree - 2 ; Strongly disagree - 1].

Questions
1. Raw materials are available in abundance for the hosiery units in Tiruppur.
2. Industrialists in Tiruppur are concerned about economical development and not about the health of the ecosystem.
3. Polluted ground water in Tiruppur can neither be used for industrial purposes nor for drinking.
4. Domestic animals die after consuming the effluent water from River Noyyal.
5. Child labour is increasing in Tiruppur because of industrialisation.
6. The entire atmosphere in Tiruppur is not conducive for healthy living.
7. People thrive only because of textile industry.
8. Industrial zone should be created in Tiruppur.
9. Employment opportunity is high in Tiruppur.
10. People are living above the poverty line.
11. Favourable climate that gives lustre to the cloth.
12. The agricultural land is converted into industries.
13. Noyyal river in Tiruppur is dead because of the inflow of industrial effluent.
14. Yield of coconut trees, cotton plants are very much reduced in Tiruppur.
15. Un-educated people are working more in Tiruppur.
16. Polluted water brings water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria, jaundice and allergies.
17. Cost of living is very high in Tiruppur.
18. There should be a third party organization to maintain the ecosystem and monitor the pollution load.
19. Export of garments brings lot of foreign exchange.
20. Employees are well paid in Tiruppur.
21. Tiruppur is well connected by road and rail with other commercial towns and cities.
22. Bore-well water in Tiruppur Municipal area is used for bathing, washing and drinking.
23. Transportation of cotton from mills is the cause of air pollution.
24. An agriculturist becomes an industrialist in Tiruppur.
25. People in Tiruppur are interested in money-making, they are not interested in education.
26. Usage of bore well water leads to skin disorder like eczema.
27. The density of the population in Tiruppur is beyond carrying the capacity.
28. Effluent treatment plant should be constructed outside the town to reduce the pollution load.
29. Availability of cheap and abundant labour in Tiruppur.
30. Floating population is very high in Tiruppur.
31. Industry started flourishing because of the availability of land in and around Tiruppur.
32. Biodiversity in Tiruppur is lost.
33. Noise pollution from the industries leads to mental tension.
34. Dead fishes are found floating in River Noyyal probably because of effluent discharge.
35. The quality of education is lost because of industrialisation.
36. Ginning, sizing, spinning of cotton leads to asthma.
37. 90% of people only depend on industry in Tiruppur.
38. Recycling not only reduce the pollution problem but reduce the quantum of fresh water need.
39. The climatic condition is favourable to maintain average temperature.
40. Tiruppur is traditionally a drought prone area.
41. Ecosystem stability is lost in Tiruppur, because of industrialisation.
42. Atmospheric temperature is increasing in Tiruppur.
43. Eco-friendly technology should be introduced to reduce the pollution load.
44. The infrastructural facilities are not growing at the rate of development.
45. The Orathupalayam dam constructed to arrest flash floods, leads to the stagnation of effluent which affects the whole ecology.
46. Political callousness is responsible for the deterioration of Tiruppur environment.
47. People are less aware of existing pollution issue.


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