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Ludhiana chanting the green mantra

india Updated: Jun 05, 2010 01:29 IST
Amit Sharma
Amit Sharma
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The green mantra is sweeping across Ludhiana, a city once notorious for its pollution record. And among those chanting it are new entrepreneurs and managers of local industrial units, who are bringing about a meaningful change in the way the average Punjabi lives, thinks and conducts business.

From reusing treated sewage water to using non-conventional power generation methods, small and big industries alike are vying with each other to project themselves as eco-friendly, and win over reputed global clients in the process.

This ‘green revolution’ is a far cry from the days when the industry used to violate environmental laws and disregard ecological norms with gay abandon.

But is the clamouring for a ‘green tag’ just a means to minimise costs, or is it a conscious decision to help save the planet? These are questions that generate questions about the future of the green revolution.

“It’s as much out of environmental concerns as for business interest. The green label definitely puts a premium on products in export markets,” concedes Sanjay Kapoor, managing director of Kazaro International. Kapoor recently commissioned a survey to assess the market potential in Europe before launching his ‘green’ designer line for women.

All set to hit European stores in June, Kapoor’s collection uses organic fabric, handspun yarn and vegetable dyes.

With heightened awareness, young entrepreneurs are passionate about the green cause.

Ecological concerns have driven many entrepreneurs to produce brands with “green DNAs” and as a result they have started investing a “lucrative” percentage of their annual budgets on turning green.

Given cost-benefit analysis too they find the “green shift” profitable. Oswal Woolen Mills, the flagship concern of the $550-million Nahar group of companies, has invested more than Rs 1 crore in a project that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing fossil fuel-based electricity generation with environment friendly sustainable resources such as rice husk.

“This green electricity turns out to be more cost effective than that provided by state electricity board,” Sandeep Jain, executive director of Oswal Woolen Mills, told Hindustan Times.

Like several other textile units, his company does not use azo dyes, which contain carcinogenic components.

The European Union has banned imports of textile and leather products with excess contents of azo dyes to reduce the harm to humans from such garments.

At Abhishek Industries Limited, part of the Rs 25-billion global conglomerate Trident group, being eco-friendly is not just a target but a way of life.

The group’s paper division claims that by using wheat straw as the primary raw material for paper manufacturing, the company is saving more than 5,000 trees from being uprooted.

“We use agricultural residue and renewable resources to make truly ‘natural’ paper, completely in line with Corporate Responsibility for Environmental Protection norms,” says Rajinder Gupta, CEO and managing director of the group.

Trident, along with a host of other local export houses, has adopted energy conservation drives, strictly advocating the ‘three Rs’— recycle, reuse and reduce.

They have commissioned a water treatment plant that encourages use of surface water by industrial plants instead of ground water and hence avoid ground water depletion in the area.

With environmental sustainability proving to be beneficial, dozens of other units, mainly export houses, have opted for green technology backed “green products”.

Some companies have gone the extra mile and are striving to ‘greenify’ their supply chain.

“We are in process of rearranging the network between suppliers, manufacturer and customers by locating them close to each other to reduce fuel consumption and other environmental costs,” says Varun Jain, director of the Rs. 240-crore Venus Group of Companies, whose flagship concern UV&W exclusively deals with organic clothing.

With a strong list of export clients such as Gap, Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Hudson Bay, Sam’s Club, Jean Fritz and The Children’s Place, Jain is quite familiar with the business economics and understands how to make a “green” product the premium one.

He has enhanced uninterrupted recycle and reuse of treated effluent for purposes of plantation and maintenance activities in various sections of the industrial plants.

“Such measures give us an edge over others as the demand for garments made of organic cotton and use of eco-friendly technologies is soaring in both domestic and international markets,” said Jain, whose group of companies has predicted that future fashion trend lied in ‘green’ and not the usual pinks, blacks or purples.