Over 200 small and medium-size leather tannery owners in the city have dubbed the administration’s plans to relocate them as a ‘conspiracy’ to destroy the leather industry of Kanpur. The state administration has ordered the displacement of these tanneries from their present location in Jajmau in Kanpur city to neighbouring Unnao district, citing Ganga pollution as the prime concern.
Small Tanners Association (STA) president Hafijur Rehman told Business Standard that over 200,000 workers were associated with the tannery industry of the city, which they feared would be liquidated in the event of displacement. This, according to him, would further fuel the mass exodus from Kanpur as was witnessed two decades ago when dozens of textile mills were closed down leading to industrial decline of the erstwhile ‘Manchester of the East’.
“On one hand the government plans to prevent exodus to metropolitan cities by generating employment in smaller cities like Kanpur, while such incoherent policies would further strain the already inadequate resources in the National Capital Region (NCR), the favourite migration territory of Kanpurites,” he added.
Another tannery owner, Naier Jamaal said the government had not even developed adequate and proper infrastructure in the proposed leather park where they planned to relocate them. “The officials do not have any roadmap for systematic preservation and promotion of the tannery industry to the new site and a blind adherence to orders would definitely wipe out the leather industry from the region,” he lamented.
The leather industry from Kanpur currently pays around Rs 2,000 crore in form of various taxes to the government and earns foreign exchange amounting to Rs 3,000 crore every year. Rehman said the tanneries were strictly adhering to the pollution control standards set by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), but the concerned officials continued to harass the owners in search of making some quick buck.
“Owing to such snags like bureaucratic callousness and infrastructural hitches, some of the tanners have already relocated to Punjab, Bihar and Chennai but those who can not afford the relocation costs will have to shut shops,” added Rehmaan.
STA is planning to present its problems to the city MP and Union Coal Minister (independent charge), Sri Prakash Jaiswal to request the Centre’s intervention in the matter.