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Why the Rs 20,000-crore UP leather industry is on tenterhooks

By Virendra Singh Rawat
March 22, 2017 14:10 IST
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In its UP Vision Document, the BJP had promised it would shut down illegal and mechanised abattoirs in the state if it came to power.

Possible action against illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh, as promised in the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is keeping the Rs 20,000-crore UP leather industry on tenterhooks.

In its UP Vision Document, the BJP had promised it would shut down illegal and mechanised abattoirs in the state if it came to power.

With Yogi Adityanath as chief minister with the support of a three-fourths majority in the Assembly, things are likely to get the head-start once the ministerial portfolios are distributed.

There are about 45 licensed, mechanised slaughterhouses in UP operating in the private sector, with most units having the beef export licence.

The UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has started drawing up a list of abattoirs that are flouting the norms or operating without the licence.

On Monday two illegal abattoirs were closed down in Allahabad, but the order on that had predated the Yogi regime. But this has fuelled anxiety in the leather industry.

There are a large number of illegal slaughterhouses and those operated manually in the state, especially in the western districts. Although there are no comprehensive figures on this, they provide employment to almost 50,000 people.

“There would be no immediate impact on the state leather industry if action is taken against illegal slaughterhouses, but we have to see how the situation unfolds,” the former regional head of the Council for Leather Exports (CLE), RK Jalan, told Business Standard.

He said such measures were not uncommon and countries like Brazil had taken similar steps to check the depletion of livestock giving milk. Jalan said there was no reason for panic or to exaggerate the issue.

“Illegal slaughterhouses ought to be shut down in the larger interests of pollution control and tighter regulation.”

UP has three major leather industry hubs — Kanpur-Unnao, Agra and Noida. Half the leather industry’s revenues come from abroad, according to him.

The state accounts for almost a third of India’s annual leather trade and exports.

Meanwhile, CLE Regional Chairman Javed Iqbal said the Council was watching the situation since there was ambiguity as to whether only illegal slaughterhouses would be closed down or action would be taken against all mechanised abattoirs in the state.

“We hope that only defaulting slaughterhouses are targeted, else it would certainly hit the supply of raw hide for the leather goods industry,” he said.

Iftikhar Ahmad, who supplies cattle to slaughterhouses in Saharanpur, said roughly 750 animals were supplied each day to the licensed units in the district.

“If the government bans all abattoirs, it would severely hit our livelihood,” he said, adding meat prices would go up sharply and cattle farmers would not get remunerative prices for their old and non-milch buffalo.

Kisan Jagriti Manch president Sudhir Panwar, who teaches at Lucknow University, said there was no credible mechanism to ascertain the economy of illegal abattoirs in the state or the livelihood they sustained.

“However, the UPPCB and National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in the past taken to task slaughterhouses which do not conform to norms.”

Panwar said milch cattle theft had spurted in recent years in western UP due to the thriving meat trade.

Photograph: Reuters

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Virendra Singh Rawat in Lucknow
Source: source

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