World’s first Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for particulate pollution has undergone a decade of trials, challenges, and effective pilot execution in Surat, Gujarat, since its conception. This path-breaking initiative implemented by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board has shown that markets can reduce air pollution. The scheme being implemented with researchers from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, and the Economic Growth Center at Yale University is now being scaled up in other parts of Gujarat.

While the industries trade emission certificates to confront the twin problems of cleaning the air while facilitating robust economic growth, we at EPIC India decided to discover the life inside these industries in Surat that are part of this scheme.

This photo essay, compiled and curated by EPIC-India’s Vikram Buragohain and Shrutikantha Kandali, puts the lens behind the numbers and documents the people and the process involved in putting this unique and innovative pollution market plan into place.

Before the textile is turned into various garments, a manufacturing worker works on the printing process


Workers manage the enormous amounts of waste generated by the tonnes of textile that are manufactured each day


A factory at work: the calm amidst the pandemonium


Two factory workers inspecting the product for any discrepancies


Two young men working endless hours to produce incessant yards of fabric in a textile plant


Synchronized symmetry


A female factory worker loads coal into the boiler and maintains the boiler’s operation so that it can continue to generate steam for the industry


A worker sorting dyed threads by hue in a factory


One of the most important processes in a textile plant, tie-and-dye produces a lot of emissions and fumes


Beauty in the ordinary