The ban on slaughterhouses and the proposed shifting of tanneries from Kanpur in name of cleaning the Ganga is hampering leather exports from the country, with enterprises in Kanpur losing business to their competitors in Pakistan.
The recent crisis in the leather industry is steadily impacting the Rs 6,000 crore annual export business from the city, and exporters based there estimate that at least 50 per cent of their export business has already gone to Pakistan.
Kanpur's leather industry provides employment to around 300,000 people directly or indirectly. The city's leather exporters were already facing tough competition from Pakistan in saddlery, sofa material and shoes. The recent crisis has only made matters worse, as foreign orders are dwindling.
In the recently concluded international leather exhibition in Hong Kong, the Indian pavilion wore a deserted look, unlike that of Pakistan, which had a huge crowd of traders.
According to leather exporter and executive committee member of the environment sustainable team of the export council, Asad K Iraqi, foreign traders have been asking them how they will ensure supplies in the present situation when the government is mulling shifting of tanneries.
Asserting that the shifting of tanneries on the pretext of cleaning the Ganga was impractical, Iraqi said the clampdown on slaughterhouses had adversely impacted the supply of raw material.
According to him the country had, till date, failed to comply zero liquid discharge, which means no toxic waste flows from the tanneries. He said that the waste flowing from the tanneries contains salts that pollute the river. Iraqi feels that if the government were to erect a closed corridor around river where the tanneries are situated, it could solve the problem.
"The government can easily declare a two to four kilometer area around the river Ganga in Kanpur as a closed corridor, where no tannery is allowed to shed its waste into river. This would be more effective and can be easily monitored," Iraqi explained.
Meanwhile the court on Monday heard the issue of shifting of tanneries from Kanpur where leather exporters have suggested three alternates to it. The court will continue hearing in the coming two days.