Centre’s notification to slaughter jobs at Vellore tanneries, kill India’s leather export hub

Hit hard by the Central notification that extended the restriction on cow slaughter to buffaloes, the tanning industry in Vellore, the hub of Indian leather export, has moved the Centre to remove buff

Published: 30th May 2017 05:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th May 2017 05:38 AM   |  A+A-

Cows walk on dried agricultural fields in Mahabubnagar, one of the drought effected districts in Telangana. | A Suresh Kumar/ EPS

Express News Service

VELLORE: Hit hard by the Central notification that extended the restriction on cow slaughter to buffaloes, the tanning industry in Vellore, the hub of Indian leather export, has moved the Centre to remove buffaloes from the list. “We have made a representation to the Centre to remove buffaloes from the list as they are not of religious significance to people of any particular faith,” said Aqeel Panaruna, vice chairman of the Council for Leather Exports. The tannery industry is sensitive about the availability of buffalo hide, which is used to make soles of shoes.

“The campaign against cow slaughter has already brought down sales. If the ban is extended to buffaloes, at least 250 companies in Ambur and surrounding areas will suffer directly,” said S Faiyaz Ahmed General Secretary of Ambur Tanners Association.

The development has made tannery owners in and around Vellore like Ahmed concerned about their business, which, with 40 per cent share, forms the backbone of Indian leather export.
“Now, we will have to struggle for raw materials. Workers at wet-blue leather manufacturing companies will start losing jobs from September,” he added. Sources in the industry say the Centre is working on a proposal to issue fresh licenses to companies that export beef and skin. However, veterans in the trade are sceptical about the proposal.

Now, the Rs 5,000 crore tannery sector in Vellore sources 90 per cent of skin and rawhide from places including Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. “Normally, farmers who have two or three animals sell them to small traders, from whom we buy in bulk,” Ahmed said.

This arrangement gives them flexibility in operations, like sourcing and payment. But if they have to source raw materials from export firms, “tanneries would be dependent on them,” said Ranipet-based industrialist R Krishnamurthi. Tanneries are an important employment and revenue source for the State. The 1,230 leather companies in Vellore employ 1 lakh directly and 2.5 lakh indirectly, besides earning an estimated Rs 2,000 crore annually in foreign exchange, which would be hit by the notification, Ahmed added.

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