IIT-Roorkee catalyst to curb Kanpur tannery wastes

With over 700 tanneries facing an uncertain future for spewing pollutants into the river Ganga at Kanpur, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee has come up with a solution to curb their toxic wastes.

Under a pilot project, IIT-Roorkee has developed a catalyst which can be used in the redesigned chambers to bring down the level of TDS (dissolved solids) from 18,000-25,000 parts per million (PPM) to 1,000-1,500 PPM, which is well under the permissible limit.

The pilot project has been given to IIT-Roorkee by a consortium of five top tanneries of Kanpur, which includes Mirza International, Asia's biggest tannery, says Prof Shishir Sinha of the department of chemical engineering at IIT-Roorkee. Super House, Model Exim, Kingston and Allen Cooper are the other four tanneries in the consortium.

"We have successfully launched a pilot project at Kanpur to curb pollution of tanneries by developing a catalyst which can be used in redesigned chambers to bring down the level of TDS," said Sinha. He refused to identify the catalyst, saying that IIT-Roorkee will soon apply for a patent for it. "But I can say that this project has been working very well for over six months now," said Sinha.

Similarly, IIT-Roorkee is also working on a solution to bring down the level of hazardous chrome, which is very high in the wastes discharged by tanneries. "We are also very close to finding a final solution to the chrome problem," said Sinha.

The National Green Tribunal had recently warned of complete closure of over 700 tanneries at Kanpur, terming them among the highest sources of pollution in the Ganga. The tribunal had also stated that if effective steps are not taken, the tanneries would be closed.

"Since thousands of people will be affected by the closure of tanneries, we will do everything to find a lasting solution to the problem," said Sinha.

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