Abattoir closure will boost India’s animal rights image: Footwear industry
Puran Dawar, regional chairman (North) of Council for Leather Exports (CLE), also president of Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chamber (AFMEC), said that many international brands from UK, US and Germany have in the past refused to buy products from Agra owing to negative publicity by animal rights groups over ill-treatment of animals at slaughterhouses.
"With such illegal abattoirs out of Uttar Pradesh, we will be able to market our products in these countries in a better manner," Dawar added.
Agra is the largest footwear manufacturing hub in India, contributing around 65% of the total domestic consumption as well as having a whopping 28% share of the total footwear export from the country.
Of the leather used by units here, 90% is sourced from the different leather production centres across the country, mainly from Kanpur and Chennai, while the rest is imported. According to industry experts, 2 lakh pairs of footwear are manufactured per day in Agra, even as the installed capacity of the producing units is around 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh pairs per day.
"The sudden closure of slaughterhouses has affected the supply of leather, but it is a temporary phase. In the long run, this decision will only help in improve the image of India's leather industry in the global market. Till now India has been accused by many international animal rights groups of allowing inhuman treatment of animals by not taking action against illegal abattoirs. Because of this, many international brands from the US, UK and Germany have completely stopped giving manufacturing orders to Indian firms," Dawar said.
"We have 25% of the cattle population of the world, but we are still struggling with poor quality of hides. As a large number of animals are slaughtered in an unscientific manner and are in poor condition, the problem of poor quality hides is always faced by the industry," the AFMEC president added.
According to the CLE, there are only 60 units which are fully mechanised and 150 others in semi mechanised category with the state of the art manufacturing facility, using the latest technology and world-class raw materials.
According to a rough estimate there are 5,000 units involved in shoe manufacturing in Agra, although it is difficult to put a finger on the exact number as most of them are being operated from households located in dingy lanes of Heeng ki Mandi, Mantola and surrounding areas.
"This is a good time for brand India. Now, not only slaughterhouses, but also tanneries will have to improve their facilities and buy animal skins from legal sources. They will also have to install effluent treatment plants and ensure proper disposal of wastes. It will definitely improve the quality and credibility of Indian products in the international markets," said another senior official of CLE.