Kanpur: In September 2018, three months ahead of the Kumbh Mela, the BJP-led Yogi Adityanath government had ordered the closure of more than 250 tanneries situated at the banks of the Ganga river. The tanneries located at Kanpur’s Jajmau suburb and Unnao were asked to shut down the operations to facilitate cleaner and less polluted water while it flows towards Sangam City of Prayagraj during the long mela.
The details of the huge blow the tannery industry has received due to the decision are surfacing. While the buyers are turning from the tannery hub of Kanpur to Pakistan to buy hides, the manufacturers are eyeing to West Bengal.
Javed Iqbal, regional chairperson for Council for Leather Exports in Kanpur claiming that the neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh are gaining from the loss of Kanpur, he said, “We have Rs 20,000-crore domestic business and Rs 8,000-crore export business from Kanpur. With tanneries shut for three months, the customer is not going to wait. They are procuring from Bangladesh, known for its soft leather, and Pakistan, famous for buffalo leather. The industry in Kanpur is down to zero with no production at all in the past three months,” Iqbal said, as quoted by TOI.
Kanpur’s leather industry has seen a loss of around Rs 5,000 crore from the shut of tannery units on the banks of ganga river. Though the closure was ordered for running of the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) and owing to a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order over Ganga pollution, the tannery owners & exporters allege that it was done for Kumbh.
“Tanneries were always shut during Kumbh, but it was done on rotation basis and only just before ‘shahi snans’. This time, government started issuing threats from 2018 beginning,” said Hafizur Rehman, the president of Small Tanners’ Association, according to the report.
Rehman, said that 223 of 249 units were shut by December-end and that more than 5 lakh workers were affected. The tannery owners now hope that they would be allowed to restart work as the Kumbh ends.