Jalandhar leather industry in crisis as PPCB acts tough : The Tribune India

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Jalandhar leather industry in crisis as PPCB acts tough

JALANDHAR: The Jalandhar leather industry is in the doldrums.

Jalandhar leather industry in crisis as PPCB acts tough

Workers at a leather manufacturing unit in Jalandhar. Tribune photo: Malkiat Singh



Deepkamal Kaur

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 13

The Jalandhar leather industry is in the doldrums. Annual international orders, which were worth Rs 850 crore two years ago, have come down to Rs 300 crore.

All 56 units are running to 35 per cent of their capacity, as the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had sealed their drums a year ago owing to improper functioning of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP).

Tanners said they had been paying heavily for the common facilities in the cluster but were not being allowed to operate them fully. Leather unit owners said the 5 million litres per day (MLD) CETP was commissioned through a private company in 2010. However, it had never worked to a capacity of beyond 3.5 MLD and was unable to treat the discharge fully. Another 1.5 MLD CETP was lying non-functional, they added.

Col JS Paul (retd), President of the Punjab Leather Federation, said, “Since untreated sullage was flowing out, the PPCB sealed the drums of all units. We could not catch up with the orders coming to us and reports of restrictions on us travelled out. This has led to a drastic fall in the demand. We have been paying lakhs of rupees for common facilities every month but are being made to suffer for no fault of ours.”

The functioning of the leather complex is being monitored by the Punjab and Haryana High Court since November last. The court had appointed the Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner as chairman of the interim committee and GS Majithia, Chief Engineer, PPCB, as vigilance officer to monitor and regulate the discharge from the CETP as well as every individual tanner industry.

The Punjab Effluent Treatment Society for Tanneries (PETS), led by Akali CPS Avinash Chander’s brother Steven Kler, and Punjab Leather Federation (PLF) had locked horns over the elections, after which the matter went to the court.

The Chief Environment Engineer and the Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner had reported that, “there is a huge amount of sludge lying in the open which is not appropriately wiped out and had largely incapacitated the CETP”.

The court had asked the contractor to ensure that the filter presses of adequate capacity were installed at the CETP site for drying sludge and also directed the interim chairman and the vigilance officer to check that effluent discharged by the tanneries is within the prescribed norms.

After the court orders, Chairman, PPCB, Manpreet Singh Chattwal said he had set a time frame of three months for the installation of filter presses but it was still under consideration as to whether these would come as a common facility or would be installed by individual units.

“A meeting in this regard had been called by the Principal Secretary, Environment. However, the issue has not been resolved so far”, he said, adding that there was a plan to add up another 5 MLD plant and upgrade the existing 1.5 MLD plant to 3 MLD capacity.

DC, Jalandhar, KK Yadav said, “The fall in the orders for the leather industry has nothing to do with the sealing of their drums. It is clearly because of a slump in the European market. AT present, the CETP has 3.5 MLD capacity but the discharge coming from tanneries is much lower, which means that they are not running even to the given capacity”.

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