A six-member research team from the Institute of Technology of the Benaras Hindu University (IT-BHU) has claimed to develop natural colours, which could revolutionise the Benarasi saree and Bhadohi carpet industries.
The team led by Dr P K Mishra and Dr Pradip Srivastava from the Department of Chemical Engineering, has used the technique of solvent extraction and enzymatic extraction to developed natural colours from plants, flowers and fruits including accaccia, butia (palash), madder, marigold and pomegranate (anar).
“We have developed reddish brown colour from accaccia, black from pomegranate, violet and blue from butia, red from madder and yellow from marigold. The colours were developed from plants, flowers and fruits grown on BHU’s Barkaccha farm in neighbouring Mirzapur district between 2005 and 2007,” said Mishra.
He added, “Further, we have used additives like alum (fitkiri), which will help affix the colours to the fibre.
Safer and naturally available chemicals like calcium carbonate have also been used as additives.”
The newly-developed natural colours are non-toxic and environment-friendly, unlike the conventional chemical dyes and colouring agents used to colour fabrics, especially carpets and sarees, he further said.
Carpet Weavers India Limited, a premier carpet manufacturer in Bhadohi, is presently testing the colours commercially on selected items.
The state Department of Science and Technology (DST) under its Science and Society, has sanctioned funds over Rs 1 crore for setting up a pilot plant, which will manufacture these colours on a larger scale, Mishra said.
“DST’s Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) has identified the carpet industry as its eighth cluster in the 11th Plan. This is the prime reason as to why we have received funds for the pilot plant,” said Srivastava.
“At the pilot plant, efforts will be made to further standardise these colours to improve their techno-eco feasibility,” he added.
Once the techno-feasibility has been increased to the optimum level for all kinds of fabrics, especially carpets and Benarasi sarees, work will start on developing a safer alternative to synthetic washing of carpets, sources said.