Tanneries in Kanpur and Ganga’s pollution

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Pollution

by Bhavani Prakash

Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India  is a major centre for leather tanneries, much of it for export to consumers in US, Europe and the rest of the world.  These tanneries let out toxic effluents such as sulphides and chromium salts  into River Ganga, which is home to the endangered Gangetic Dolphins as well as several other species which are threatened by such pollution.

According to the recent article in The Hindu.

The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board has ordered closure of five more tanneries in Kanpur which were discharging their sewage in river Ganga despite several notices against it, officials said on Thursday.

With this, as many as 69 tanneries in the city have been asked to shut their operations for polluting the river.

According to the Board, despite repeated notices, these tanneries had failed to install primary treatment plants in their units and were discharging polluted water in the river.

Pollution Control Board’s regional officer Radhey Shyam said the orders to close the tanneries have been received and the procedure to shut them down will start on Friday.

The permission to shut down nine more polluting tanneries has been sought from the UPPCB, he said.

Owners of many tanneries claimed that implementation of this decision would affect nearly 50 thousand labourers and leather business worth around Rs. 2,500 crore.

Here are two videos that show the impact of the leather tanning centres.  The first one shows how a “combined effluent treatment plant diverts the waste water from the tanneries, and treats it alongwith domestic sewage water. But efforts are still required to motivate individual tannery owners to set up chrome recovery plants for the treatment process to be truly effective.”

Video link here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyMY69tdd5o&feature=related

The second is a National Geographic Video which shows activist, Prakash Jaiswal’s efforts through the organisation Eco Friends, to halt the poisoning from the tanneries which amounts to 20 million litres per day of sewage and toxic effluents containing, lead, arsenic and mercury, which make many parts of River Ganga around Kanpur a dead zone.

Click here for Video link to Alexandra Cousteau’s documentary: Tanneries and the Ganges River

Photo Courtesy: Daniel Bachhuber on Flickr showing:

“Workers at one of Kanpur’s four hundred tanneries, the city’s primary industry, load hides into well-used tumblers. Treating leather in this manner is a multi-step process requiring chemicals such as chronium and copious amounts of water. After the water is used, and thus highly polluted to human and animal use, it is more often than not piped back to the Ganges without any treatment.”


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