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Surat: Synthetic Capital Of India

Updated: October 23, 2015 8:00 am

Surat contributes 18 per cent to the total manmade fiber exports and 40 per cent of manmade fabric production in India. It has been very successful in attracting a sizeable amount of production. Surat is renowned for the synthetic sarees and dress materials

India held world monopoly in the manufacturing of cotton textiles for about 3,000 years from about B.C. 1500 to A.D. 1500. In the middle ages, Indian cotton textile products were in great demand in the Eastern and European markets. The muslins of Dhaka, chintzes of Masulipatnam, calicos of Calicut, baftas of Cambay and gold-wrought cotton piece goods of Burhanpur, Surat and Vadodara acquired a worldwide celebrity by virtue of their quality and design.

This industry could not survive in the face of strong competition from the modern mill industry of Britain which provided cheap and better goods as a result of Industrial Revolution in that country. Moreover, the British textile industry enjoyed political advantage at that time.

The first modern cotton textile mill was set up in 1818 at Fort Glaster near Kolkata. But this mill could not survive and had to be closed down. The next successful modern cotton textile mill was established in Mumbai in 1854 by a local Parsi entrepreneur C.N. Dewar. Shahpur mill in 1861 and Calico mill in 1863 at Ahmedabad were other landmarks in the development of Indian cotton textile industry.

The real expansion of cotton textile industry took place in 1870’s. By 1875-76 the number of mills rose to 47 of which over 60 per cent were located in Mumbai city alone. The industry continued to progress till the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The total number of mills reached 271 providing employment to about 2.6 lakh persons.

The First World War, the Swadeshi Movement and the grant of fiscal protection favoured the growth of this industry at a rapid pace. Demand for cloth during the Second World War led to further progress of the industry. Consequently, the number of mills increased from 334 in 1926 to 389 in 1939 and 417 in 1945. Production of cloth also increased from 4,012 million yards in 1939-40 to 4,726 million yards in 1945-46.

The industry suffered a serious setback in 1947 when most of the long staple cotton growing areas went to Pakistan as a result of partition. However, most of the cotton mills remained in India. Under such circumstances, India faced a severe crisis of obtaining raw cotton. The country had, therefore, to resort to large-scale imports of long staple cotton which was an extremely difficult task in view of the limited foreign exchange reserves. The only solution to this problem was to increase hectare-age and production of long staple cotton within the country. This goal was achieved to a great extent in the post partition era.

Odyssey Of An Acetate


The main process for dyeing and printing of synthetic sarees and dress materials adopted in cluster units are as follows.

Fabric pre-treatment

Fabric pre-treatment includes various processes. The processes can be applied either as separate steps or as combined steps. In fabric pre-treatment continuous processes is used. Fabrics are pre-treated in open width or rope form. The pre-treatment process is carried out in different methods like scouring, bleaching and shrinking process of bulkiness in pressure vessels. Batch wise pre-treatment on dyeing machines is used as variety of small lots is to be scheduled and handled.

Various processes adopted in pre-treatment are elaborated below:

Scouring: Scouring and cleaning is carried out in soflina machine. Fabric scouring is done mainly to remove the oily substances, nitrogenous compounds, waxes and proteins and natural colouring material from the fabric by treating it with hot alkaline liquors containing other required chemicals like wetting agent, defoamer, detergent, and stabilizer.

Bleaching: Bleaching is carried out to remove the coloured impurities from textile fibers. Fabric in its natural form contains so many minerals, waxes, proteins and colouring matters, etc. In order to attain a bright substrate for dyeing, bleaching or printing and to make the fabric uniformly water absorbent, a pre-treatment is essential. So the first and foremost textile processing operation is called pre-treatment, that remove the unwanted matters, such as colour, minerals, waxes and oils and stains from the grey material. The pre-treatment operation utilizes a lot of water and the quality of water plays a vital role in the cleaning of textile materials. Better the quality of water better will be the processed material.

Shrinking process: Shrinking process is performed in drum washer machine. This process is mainly used to shrink the bulkiness of the fabric, in order to attain the required size and thickness of the fabric. This Process is done in high temperature high pressure closed vessels and it is performed in batch type in the presence bleaching chemicals.


Dyeing is the process of imparting colours to the material through a dye (colour). In which a dye is applied to the substrate in a uniform manner to obtain an even shade with a performance and fastness appropriate to its final use. This process is mainly performed in Jet Dyeing Machines and Jigger machines. Initially, the jet machines are filled with required quantity of water and after attaining the required temperature, the fabric is loaded. The temperature of the liquor is raised by addition of indirect steam or direct steam. When the temperature reaches 120°C to 130°C, the required chemicals like bleaching chemicals (Hydrogen peroxide and brightening agent) are added and the water is completely drained after the process is completed. Depending on the plant operating practice, some of the plants are recycling the water for cleaning purpose. Dyeing of fabric is carried out in jet dyeing machines. The temperature of the solution is raised to 50°C. Concentrated dyestuff solution is prepared separately and is added to the liquor. After the addition of dyes, the temperature is raised to 130°C and maintained for about 60 minutes. After whitening/dyeing, the fabric is unloaded from the machine and taken to the folding and rolling machines for improving the width of cloth, which gets shrunk during the washing and dyeing process.


In Surat cluster three types printing methods are used. Most of the units are following the flat bed printing, rotary printing and some units follows hand printing. Hand printing is the old method to print the fabric. The flat bed printing has provision for printing 10 to 14 colors simultaneously. The color print paste prepared is fed onto the screens from which it is transferred to the fabric fed in. The fabric after print paste transfer is passed through a drying chamber at 145°C. The dried and printed fabric is taken for further processing.

31-10-2015Flat bed screen printing: The first of the modern printing methods is flat-bed screen printing. In the textile industry, this process is an automated version of the older hand operated screen printing. For each colour in the print design, a separate screen must be constructed or engraved. If the design has four colours, then four separate screens must be engraved. The modern flat-bed screen-printing machine consists of an in-feed device, a glue trough, a rotating continuous flat rubber blanket, flat-bed print table harnesses to lift and lower the flat screens, and a double-blade squeegee trough. The in-feed device allows for precise straight feeding of the textile fabric onto the rubber blanket. As the cloth is fed to the machine, it is lightly glued to the blanket to prevent any shifting of fabric or distortion during the printing process. The blanket carries the fabric under the screens, which are in the raised position. Once under the screens, the fabric stops, the screens are lowered, and an automatic squeegee trough moves across each screen, pushing print paste through the design or open areas of the screens. The screens are raised, the blanket precisely moves the fabric to the next colour, and the process is repeated. Once each colour has been applied, the fabric is removed from the blanket and then processed through the required fixation process. The rubber blanket is continuously washed, dried, and rotated back to the fabric in-feed area.

Rotary screen printing: In Rotary Screen printing machine, a flat screen is simply shaped into a roll by sealing the ends of the flat screen together and thus addresses the deficiencies of Flat Bed Printing Machines such as low productivity, and non-continuous patterns. The simple modification converts a semi-continuous process to a continuous one. In basic operation, rotary screen and flat screen-printing machines are very similar. Both use the same type of in-feed device, glue trough, rotating blanket (print table), dryer, and fixation equipment. Typical speeds are from 50-120 yards per minute (45-100 mpm) for rotary screen printing depending upon design complexity and fabric construction. Estimates indicate that this technique controls approximately 65 per cent of the printed fabric market worldwide.

Drying and Finishing

After printing, the drying process is performed in loop machine, where the temperature is maintained between 130°C to 170°C for better colour setting. After passing through the loop machines, the printed fabric is washed in a series of normal water and hot water washing in the presence of chemicals for colour setting. After completion of the washing process, the printed and washed fabric is subjected to heat setting process in Stenter and then pressing and finishing treatments.

Colour setting and washing process: After printing, initially drying process carried out in Loop machine. In this machine printed colours are penetrated in to thefabric, where both thermal and electrical energy are used to set the colour on the fabric.

Heat setting: Heat setting is carried out on fabrics made of manmade fibres or blends of them with natural fibres to relax tensions in the textile fibres due to upstream fibre/yarn/fabric processing and to improve the dimensional stability of the textiles. Heat setting is carried out continuously in stenters at temperatures between 150°C-220°C. The application of heat is done by hot air, on a pin stenter at 220°C for 20-30 seconds for polyester goods and at a lower temperature range of 190 °C -225 °C for 15 -20 seconds for polyamides.                                                                                                                                                                                           (NK)

At present, cotton textile industry is the largest organised modem industry of India. There has been a phenomenal growth of this industry during the last four decades. About 16 per cent of the industrial capital and over 20 per cent of the industrial labour of the country is engaged in this industry. The total employment in this industry is well over 15 million workers.

There are at present 1,719 textile mills in the country, out of which 188 mills are in public sector, 147 in cooperative sector and 1,384 in private sector. About three-fourths are spinning mills and the remaining one-fourth composite mills. Apart from the mill sector, there are several thousand small factories comprising 5 to 10 looms. Some of them have just one loom. These are based on conventional handloom in the form of cottage industry and comprise decentralised sector of this industry.

Gujarat: A Pioneer in Textiles

31-10-2015Ahmedabad was once called the ‘Manchester of the East’ due to the large number of textile mills in the city. Sadly, however, the ‘Manchester of the East’ fell into decline as the years went by and by the 1980s not only were the mills shut down but also lakhs of people lost their jobs! The entire industry was in disarray even as no remedial action was taken.

This bleak picture of decline was completely altered over the last decade under the guidance and able leadership of the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi. Gujarat being the largest cotton producer in the nation, Modi understood the vitality of cotton cultivation and textile sector in the development of Gujarat. That is why he undertook a complete transformation of these two sectors. The results are for everyone to see— in 2001 Gujarat produced 23 lakh bales of cotton whereas a decade later the figure stands at 1 crore 23 lakh bales.

Be it Saurashtra’s world famous Bandhani or the weaves of Kutch, the garments of Gujarat are acclaimed globally. While opening 20th National Garment Fair in 2012 Modi had touched upon an important aspect of zero-defect production and guided the garment manufacturers to promote ‘Made in India’ brand with ‘Zero Defect’ to establish the nation’s credibility. Not only did he give these Mantras but also he gave his solid backing that inspired the industry to grow to new heights. From the cotton farmer to the garment manufacturer, Modi took care of everyone.

In order to revolutionise the textile sector of Gujarat the state government announced the New Textile Policy. It offered large number of incentives for cotton growers and textile mills including exemption in VAT (value-added tax) to the extent of 80-100 per cent for a period of 10 years.

The policy primarily aims at safeguarding the interests of the cotton farmers, better price realisation in national and international markets and value addition in the entire chain. It also aims at protecting the farmers from the losses incurred due to the constant anti-farmer policies of the former central government. One of the unique aspects of the policy is it aims at developing textile parks for cotton growing districts that will help farmers and will enable cloth and garments to be manufactured in the state itself.

Spinning India’s Textile Success


The government of Gujarat intends to invest – USD 3.28 billion in textile industry in next 5 years which will also help create 1 million jobs in the sector

Gujarat’s Contribution

  • Largest producer (33%) with production of 93 lac bales in 2012-13 and exporter (60%) of cotton in the country
  • 50% of the country’s art silk fabric is produced in Surat
  • Largest producer of denim in India (65%)
  • Highest number of medium and large textile processing houses (over 600)
  • Contributes to over one-fourth of the country’s technical textile output
  • Largest manufacturer of man made and filament fabric
  • 2nd largest decentralized power loom concentrating state (50,000 looms (cotton)/8 lakh filament)
  • Gujarat a leader in textile sector with home to 1,560 medium and largest textile units and having 18 textile-related product clusters.
  • Gujarat’s textile market is estimated to be around USD 25 billion by 2017
  • Presence of more than 1,000 Technical Textiles units across all sub-sectors of technical textiles.
  • Gujarat’s technical textile market is estimated around INR 7737 crore in 2012-13 at current prices.
  • Contributes around 10% to the national technical textiles output.
  • Gujarat envisions to attract at least 2,000 new units with an investment worth USD 1600 million (INR. 10,000 crore) by introducing technical textile mission.
  • Technical textiles of Gujarat will strive to capture 50% of the Indian market.
  • Three dedicated textile SEZ are being planned in Ahmedabad.
  • Surat Apparel Park, a textile SEZ is already functional.
  • Two new Composite Centres for the development of technical textiles to be set up in Ahmedabad and Surat.

Surat: Silk City of India

Industrial development in Surat District could be attributed to the presence of a large number of diamond processing, textiles, and chemical & petrochemical industries. During 2006-07, Surat contributed a maximum of 11.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product to the state. Surat, known as the synthetic capital of India, hosts over 600,000 power looms and provides over 12 lakh jobs. It contributes 18 per cent to the total manmade fiber exports and 40 per cent of manmade fabric production in India. Surat has been very successful in attracting a sizeable amount of production. Surat is renowned for the synthetic sarees and dress materials and there are about 400 industries in the cluster. The sarees and dress materials produced in Surat cluster are renowned in the country and abroad. These are marketed in India and also exported to various countries. These industries are located at Palsana, Sachin, Pandesara and Surat city Industrial Areas. Majority of the industries have been in operation for the last 15 to 30 years. The main raw material polyester grey cloth is procured from local polyester producers. Large numbers of small and medium textile processing units are located in Surat. Majority of the industries located in Surat are of wet process and a very few units are engaged in the production of grey fabric with power looms. Wet process requires high amounts of thermal energy in the form of hot water and steam, inducing a high share of energy cost. The energy cost is next to the raw materials cost. Processing is the weakest link in the supply chain of textile industry. Majority of the industries in the cluster units were dependent on local technologies of low end and with little investment initiatives and technology up-gradation. The units started recently employing latest technologies and equipments for better quality, production and efficiency. These units are located in Palsana industrial area.

Majority of the units in Surat are of integrated type, where grey cloth (raw material) is purchased from outside and the same is processed for dyeing and printing. The main products manufactured in these units are synthetic sarees and dress materials and cotton dress materials. More than 80 per cent of the units are engaged in job works, wherein local traders provide the design and raw material (grey cloth) and the units process the raw material for dyeing and printing as desired by the traders. Apart from dyeing and printing, Jari work, embroidery and other hand works are also carried out in Surat, manually by the ladies on job work basis. The products manufactured in these units have good domestic and international market. Surat is the biggest cluster in India producing synthetic sarees and materials.

The Surat power loomsector gives employment to about 6 lakh people. Similarly, the processing industry gives employment to about 5 lakh people. Besides, lakhs of people are engaged in trade, transport, cutting, packing and ancillary industries like dyes, colour, chemicals, textile engineering etc. Of the total production of cloth in India, the synthetics fabrics accounts for about 90 per cent. Surat alone accounts for 40 per cent exports of fabrics generating revenue of more than Rs. 500 crore. It produces cheap fabrics affordable to poor people. Surat also have a major petrochemical industrial area at Hajira, which is facilitating production of yarn from petroleum, which is basic raw material for polyester-based textile industry. The state government has taken active step in developing an apparel park, one at Surat and the other at Ahmedabad under active support of Union Ministry of Textile. Besides Jetpur, a Centre of Saree Printing has been already earmarked for setting up a textile park in near future.

According to a study by ASSOCHAM, as one of the leading industrial states in India, Gujarat needs to modernise and up-scale its textile and clothing industry besides setting up industrial parks for various segments of the value chain. Nearly 23 per cent of the state gross domestic product comes from textile and related industries, said the industrial body. Gujarat is the largest cotton- producing state and accounts for 30 per cent of woven fabric and 25 per cent of decentralised powerloom sector of the country. However, textile units in Gujarat need to invest intensely in research and development for developing new products, reduce average costs of production and transaction, and improve raw material base for unleashing the growth potential.

By Nilabh Krishna

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