“The idea for an emission trading system germinated after a team of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and J-PAL (Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab research centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) came to Surat sometime in 2012”. This is Jitubhai Vakharia, president of the South Gujarat Textile Processors Association. “During a meeting with them, I realised we were wasting money on compliance with environmental laws under a corrupt inspector raj,” he says.
Jitubhai was recalling the days when some 300 dyeing and printing mills in Surat were notorious for vomiting noxious gases through their chimneys. Today, ten years after that momentous meeting in 2012, Jitubhai – as he prefers to be addressed – stands at the vanguard of an innovative green movement.
Persuaded by committed climate change researchers from J-PAL, Energy Policy Institute of Chicago (EPIC) and Yale University, the textile processing industry in Surat led by Jitubhai has emerged as the first industry in the world to practise trading in SPM (suspended particulate matter) through NeML, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX).
A presentation of this unique initiative was given at the recently concluded COP27 meet at Sharm El-Shaikh in Egypt, during which a short film was also screened. Neither Jitubhai nor the processors’ association he represents were invited to the event, though this entire project would not have kicked off without the unprecedented enthusiasm of the Surat industry.
“It is not important who gets or doesn’t get the credit,” says Jitubhai. “It is more important that a major task has been implemented. If I put myself over this critical project, it won’t give the result it is giving now.”
As many as 170 textile processing units in Surat out of nearly 350-odd mills are partners in the SPM exchange and they trade in SPM every Tuesday.