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Posted at: Dec 27, 2018, 9:36 PM; last updated: Dec 27, 2018, 9:36 PM (IST)

Ban relaxed, Kanpur can now produce leather at 50% capacity during Kumbh

Yogi revises order on 3-month closure of tanneries, cheers traders
Ban relaxed, Kanpur can now produce leather at 50% capacity during Kumbh
A worker makes leather belts outside a tannery on the banks of river Ganges in Kanpur. Reuters file EUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service
Lucknow, December 27

Following pressure from the leather industry, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's order to completely close down leather and meat processing industries in Kanpur and Unnao for three months during the Kumbh Mela from December 15 to March 15 has been revised.

The new order allows production at 50 per cent capacity in Kanpur and one industrial cluster of Unnao but completely banned in Banthara.

The ban had been proposed to ensure clean water in the Ganga during the Kumbh when crores of pilgrims take a holy dip at Prayagraj.

Taj Alam, Vice-Chairman, UP Leather Industries Association, said the CM announced the decision during a press conference in June and they had received notices from the Kanpur and Unnao regional offices of the UP Pollution Control Board.

In the first week of October, a delegation of industrialists met the CM to apprise him of the implications of the ban. Alam said four points had been put across. The first was the loss of revenue. The leather industry in the region alone generates Rs 2,000 crore worth of foreign revenue every month through exports. Matching revenue of Rs 2,000 crore a month is from the domestic market. Hence, the loss of revenue during the three-month period was estimated at Rs 12,000 crore for the leather industry alone.

The second problem was loss of jobs of nearly 3 lakh labourers. If each labourer on an average supported a family of five persons, the number of people impacted by the decision reached 15 lakh. "We told the CM that this could give rise to labour unrest, a spurt in crime rate and a host of related problems," Alam said.

It was also explained to the CM that due to the closure, the existing export orders would not be delivered, denting the country's reliability as a supplier. "The foreign buyers may shift to neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. The danger that they may not return after they realise that Kumbh is going to be an annual feature was also pointed out which would cost India in terms of reputation as well as foreign exchange," Alam said.

He said the delegation also pointed out that the ban may increase rather than reducing pollution in the Ganga as meat production could not be completely stopped. "In the absence of tanneries, the skin and hides may be quietly dumped into the river, making it more polluted."

During a review it was confirmed that around 350 tanneries in Kanpur released effluents into a sewerage treatment plant. "Then through a pre-independence British period irrigation channel, the waste is used to irrigate fields. At no point it falls into the river."

But Unnao has one industrial cluster that discharges its effluents in the Loni drain. The Unnao district magistrate and the Pollution Board set up a committee which found that the Loni drain travels towards Rae Bareli and dries up after 45 km without discharging its effluents into the Ganga. The industrial units in this section of Unnao have been allowed to continue production at 50 per cent capacity.

But, around 50 units in the Banthara industrial unit in Unnao, which releases its effluents in the City Jail drain, have been completely closed, impacting around 30 tanneries as well as textile and liquor-producing units.

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