Kashmir leather industry braces up for investments

In a first, several top leather manufacturers from various parts of India will soon be setting up their units at Lasipora Industrial estate near Pulwama.

This has become possible by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that State Industrial Development Corporation (SIDCO) recently signed with Council for Leather Exports (CLE).

Under the MoU, the CLE, an umbrella body of leather manufacturers in India, would set up units at Lasipora.

Amit Sharma, Managing Director, SIDCO told Greater Kashmir that the leather park at Lasipora spread on 150 kanals of land is the area where CLE wants to establish a common facility centre for manufacturers of finished leather goods.

“At present only three leather-manufacturing units are working at Lasipora producing only semi-finished leather. The MoU will help us attract some top leather goods manufacturers. It will help utilization of local raw material used for leather,” Sharma said.

According to estimates over 30 lakh hides of sheep and goats are generated annually in the Valley, besides 3.5 lakh hides of bovines. In absence of large scale leather manufacturing units in the Valley, bulk of these hides are exported.

“With the setting up of leather manufacturing units at Lasipora, a large quantity of such hides can be utilized for leather production in the Valley itself,” experts said.

According to experts, leather industry in the Valley only produces ‘wet blue’ or semi-functional leather “which is sent/transported to Punjab for production of leather goods.”

Commenting on problems faced by the leather industry in the Valley, Mushtaq Wani, President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) said that SIDCO must upgrade the common effluent treatment plant at the leather park in order to ensure smooth functioning of the local manufacturing units already existing at Lasipora.

“There are various schemes from government of India for upgradation of common effluent treatment plants which could be utilized for the leather park at Lasipora as well,” Wani opined. He said production of finished leather goods at the Lasipora Industrial Estate by Council of Leather exporters will provide employment opportunities to hundreds of local youths.

According to a diagnostic report by JKEDI, the leather industry employs more than 2.5 million people in India while the number of leather manufacturing units in the Valley is just five out of which two are still under implementation.

A large part (nearly 60-65%) of the production of leather in India is in the small/cottage sector but no small scale industry in the Valley is involved in production of finished leather goods.

The JKEDI report says leather production is amongst top 8 export earners for India, adding that this industry has not picked up in the Valley.

Among major problems faced by leather industry which the report has identified are in terms of registration, clearance certificates and other formalities.

The report has also cited inadequate infrastructure, non availability of tanneries, no government incentives, environmental hazards as hurdles for the leather industry in Kashmir.

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