Kanpur's leather tanneries that were closed for Kumbh, the world's largest religious gathering held this year in January in Prayagraj, are slowing returning to life.
The tanneries were closed from December 15, 2018 to March 15 to ensure Ganga river was clean downstream in Prayagraj ( formerly Allahabad) and most of them remained shut later because the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) refused to give them no-objection certificates.
Kanpur's leather hub called Jajmau has an estimated 267 tanneries. As many as 239 tanneries closed last year and 28 continued to operate as they were reportedly based on a dry tanning process.
The Rs 12,000-crore industry, including tanneries and leather goods manufacturers, provides direct and indirect employment to about a million people in Kanpur and Unnao districts. It generates Rs 6,000 crore worth of exports to the Gulf, Europe, China, Iran etc.
Last month, the state government allowed the tanneries to open if they operated at only 50 per cent of installed capacity and met environmental norms.
After the recommendation of the Kanpur district administration following inspections, the UPPCB has so far allowed 101 tanneries to reopen in Jajmau. The remaining 138 tanneries are likely to be allowed to reopen soon subject to adherence to norms set by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and UPPCB.
“We welcome the decision to allow tanneries to be reopened. However, it will take 2-4 weeks for these units to attain optimum capacity, since a lot of repair works have to be done in plants and machinery,” Small Tanners’ Association member Nayyar Jamal told Business Standard.
“It is a breather to the Kanpur leather industry that the tanneries are being allowed to reopen. However, unless all tanneries reopen, it would be only a partial relief. However, we are happy at least things have started moving in the positive direction,” said Javed Iqbal, chairman of Council for Leather Exports (CLE), central region.