The Kanpur leather industry, closed since December 2018, has received a breather from the Uttar Pradesh government. The tanneries have now been allowed to reopen, subject to certain conditions.
Kanpur leather industry, including tanneries and leather goods manufacturers, is valued at around Rs 12,000 crore and provides direct and indirect employment to about a million people in Kanpur and Unnao districts. The cluster exports goods worth Rs 6,000 crore to the Gulf, Europe, China, Iran etc.
The tanneries looking to reopen will have to satisfy environmental norms of National Green Tribunal (NGT) and UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), which will also monitor the ground situation before issuing the final no objection certificate (NoC). Tanneries will be allowed to re-open only after they ensure that their effluents won't fall in river Ganga.
Nearly 400 tanneries in Kanpur were served notices by UPPCB ordering closure between December 15, 2018 to March 15, 2019 for ensuring cleaner Ganga during the 2019 Kumbh Mela in downstream Prayagraj (Allahabad).
However, even after culmination of the Kumbh, tanneries remained shut as UPPCB did not issue the NoC owing to the presence of pollutants beyond the permissible limits in Ganga.
The indefinite closure resulted in financial loss to entrepreneurs apart from loss of permanent clients, both national and international. In fact, big tannery owners had started mulling shifting to other states, including West Bengal. In fact, nearly a dozen entrepreneurs had even received allotment letters by the Mamata Banerjee government for setting up their plants in the eastern state.
However, Small Tanners’ Association member Nayyar Jamal claimed that production in tanneries is likely to fall 50 per cent owing to stringent norms and restrictions. He also claimed UPPCB was yet to apprise tanneries of the fresh state government order in this regard.
During the past few month, only 28 tanneries engaged in dry tanning process were allowed to function in the main Jajmau leather hub of Kanpur City, which was earlier termed as the ‘Manchester of the East’ owing to its flourishing textile industry.
Meanwhile, UPPCB assistant engineer Ashutosh Pandey told Business Standard the local unit was yet to receive the new directive and that further action would be taken on the basis of government order.
Last month, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had warned leather tanneries against discharging effluents and industrial waste in Ganga, while advising them to support the cause of preserving the river and the city of Kanpur.
He had asked officials to engage experts from reputed institutions like IIT Kanpur and Banaras Hindu University to seek professional advice for management of waste in urban centres.
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