19 Kanpur tanneries told to shut down as effluents overflow

All units connected to a pumping station but system broken, say officials.

The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board has asked 19 tanneries in Jajmau of Kanpur to close down immediately because effluents were spilling over and flowing into the Ganga river.

All the tanneries connected to a pumping station. The board has said that instead of flowing to the pumping station and from there to a common effluent treatment plant, the polluted water was overflowing and falling into the river.

Kuldeep Mishra, the chief environment officer, said: “These tanneries will remain closed till further orders.”

But Firoz Alam, the owner of a tannery, denied the allegation and said: “The National Green Tribunal had asked Uttar Pradesh’s Jal Nigam to divert the Budhia Ghat nallah away from the river (which would keep the polluted discharge away from the Ganga).

“The tribunal had also asked the government to build a wall along the Ganga to prevent the direct flow of the polluted water in the river. Instead of following the order, the government is harassing us.”

The Jajmau area of Kanpur, which houses the 19 units, has over 250 tanneries. “All of them have their own treatment plant. It is wrong to say that they release effluents that directly flow into the river. We pay for running the treatment plant and want to know why the government is not maintaining them properly,” said Alam. He accused the government of planning to close all the tanneries soon.

In May this year, chief minister and BJP leader Yogi Adityanath had asked the Kanpur administration to close all the functional tanneries in Jajmau between December 15, 2018, and March 15, 2019, “so that the sadhus and holy bathers get clean water” in the Ganga during the Ardh Kumbh mela in Allahabad from January 15 to March 4, 2019.

According to government records, 264 tanneries were operating in Jajmau till Wednesday.

The leaders of the tannery association said they had paid 17.5 per cent of Rs 22 crore (the rest of the total cost was provided by the government) to establish the common effluent treatment plan in 1996. There were 175 tanneries at that time. But the municipal authorities allowed 227 more units to operate in the same locality. The treatment plant is unable to treat the water released from all the units, sources said.

On Monday, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said in Calcutta that at least 1,000 tanneries from outside the state, were interested to set up shop in the eastern state and her government would take steps to accommodate them.

An official said that the majority of the applications were from tanneries in northern India, including Kanpur.

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