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Lucknow: Gloom prevails in the tanneries of Uttar Pradesh these days.Pollution norms and months-long lockdown for the two consecutive years have adversely affected the leather industry in the state. The tanneries have now been losing business to Bangladesh.

While workers had gone back to their native places due to the recent COVID crisis and are yet to come back, the tanneries in Kanpur have been getting very few orders from leather manufacturers.

Kanpur is known as the hub of the leather business with more than 400 tanneries operating from Jajmau locality here. Due to the new pollution, norms imposed in February last year by the UP government the tanneries have been asked to operate on half the capacity.

The tanneries owners have been complaining about the increase in the sewage treatment charges. According to them, the charges have been increased three times. Not only this, the government has asked them to pool in Rs 25 crore for the new advanced sewage treatment plant (STP) in Kanpur.

The vice-president of Jajmau Tanners Association Naiyar Jamal said that since tanneries, here are not operating properly and hence it cannot meet the demand in time. He cited this as one of the reason behind business shifting to Bangladesh.

According to him, tanneries in Bangladesh have increased and they are being provided government support. Naiyar said that after the order of running tanneries on half of the capacity the production went down and two months lockdown last year only added to the woes. He said that this year the workers returned to their village soon after the COVID cases started increasing and are yet to come back fully. Though many of them have intended to come back. However, due to less work, they are yet to employ most of them.

Complaining about the government’s apathy, Jamal said that earlier the tannery owners were charged Rs 6 per hyde by the STP operator but now it has been increased to Rs 20.23 per hyde. Besides the tannery, owners have been asked to pay for the up-gradation of the STP also. Leather trader from Kanpur Irfan said that at present 264 tanneries are functioning in Jajmau, Kanpur but very soon 94 of them would be closed as the electricity department has served disconnection notices.

It may mentioned that finished leather from Kanpur tanneries is being used by the famous shoe, saddlery and apparel makers in the country and overseas. The annual turnover of tanneries from Kanpur used to be Rs 2,000 crore which had been reduced to Rs 1,200 crore last year. The tannery owners expect it to go down further this year.

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