Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kanpur tanneries move to Bihar

Kanpur, November 23 Nearly 256 tannery owners out of the total 402 in the city have decided to move their tanneries from the bank of river Ganga here to Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

The reasons behind this decision include harassment by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), poor power supply and soaring cost of land and labour, said tannery owners.

Zafar Alam, vice-president of Jajmau Tannery Association (JTA), said that recently, a delegation of industrialists from Bihar had come to Kanpur to look into prospects of starting leather industry in their state.

He added that the cost of land in Muzaffarpur is about one-tenth of Kanpur and the administrative machinery there assisted industrialists in procuring necessary documents like No Objection Certificate (NOC) and others.

JTA General Secretary Shahid Hussain said, “The scenario in Kanpur could be understood from the fact that UPPCB had sealed at least 103 tanneries and other agencies, even when they fulfill pollution control norms.”

Yet another reason is easy availability of labourers. In the tanneries, most of the workers are from Bihar. Therefore, the tannery owners there find it easy to recruit them in large numbers and at a cheaper cost.

Uttar Pradesh Leather Industry Association Chairman Mohammad Ishaq said, “In Uttar Pradesh, the leather industry faces problems due to neglect by the state government, extortion in the name of pollution norms and power scarcity. On the other hand, the Bihar government has promised suitable land at cheaper rates, uninterrupted power supply, a pollution control plant and other subsidies.”

Ishtekhar Ahmad, Secretary of the Association, said, “The shifting of leather industry, which earns revenue to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore a year and provides employment to 1.5 lakh people, would be a major setback to UP.”

A tannery owner, Haji Mohammed Ishaq, who plans to move to Bihar, said pollution control board officials have often sealed tanneries and cut power supply, leading to huge losses. “We also have to pay huge amounts to government officials to evade harassment and closure,” he added.

Irshad Alam, another tannery owner in Jajmau, said that the long list of problems have pushed about 80 to 100 tanneries in the state on the brink of closure, thus leaving 10,000 labourers unemployed.

“With the leather industry moving out, the state government will not only lose a major source of revenue but also of employment,” he added.

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