Kanpur The Leather CityFormerly known as the Manchester of the East, Kanpur is an industrial city which occupies a place of prominence in India today. The city is also known as economic capital of Uttar Pradesh and contributes significantly to the state and national exchanger. Among other industries, Kanpur is home to numerous leather tanneries which produce quality leather products which have an appreciable market not only within India but abroad too.
Leather Production in Kanpur
Kanpur has been home to leather industry since early 19th century when the British forces made Kanpur their base. The presence of large number of troops in the region created a natural demand for various leather products like boots, saddlery and harness. This led to establishment of two important industries which made leather products of different types. These were Government Harness and Saddlery Factory and Copper Allen and Company. These companies supplied all the leather accessories to British forces and also contributed a lot during the two World Wars.
Copper Allen and Company supplied leather products from 1891 to 1945 in different locations including Manipur, Chitral (Pakistan), Tirah, South Africa and Tibet. The company played a vital role during the First and Second World War.
Current Scenario in Leather Industry
After 1947, since India gained Independence, the demand for leather products from Kanpur gradually decreased. However, the industry saw a revival in 1970 and has been on the surge ever since. Various leather products like footwear, harnesses and other leather products are produced and exported the world over.
Tanneries in Kanpur
Kanpur is known as the Leather City. The reason for the same can be well understood from the fact that the city has over 400 registered tanneries. Around 90 of these tanneries produce vegetable tanned leather while chrome tanned leather is produced by around 60 of these tanneries. Some of the important tanneries which produce quality leather products in Kanpur are:
- Indian National Tannery
- Oriental Tannery
- Pacific Tannery
- Kelco Tannery
- Bengal Tannery
- Sultan Tannery
Kanpur Leather Cluster
As per the research conducted by Council for Leather Products (CLE) and Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) the total annual export turn over for the year 2003-04 was Rs 1636 crore which increased to over 2000 crore in a span of two years. The importance of Kanpur as a leather hub in India can be gauged from the fact that the city has a share of 15% in India’s export of leather product. The industry provides direct and indirect employment to over 2 lakh people within the city of Kanpur.
40 medium size footwear factories operate in and around Kanpur while the number of small set ups which manufacture sandals and footwear number up to 1000. While the medium size production units have mechanized the production process, the production in small units is still done the traditional way. In Harness and saddlery production the share of Kanpur is an amazing 95 percent. Most of the leather tanneries in Kanpur are located in Jajmau area of the city which is a major industrial hub of Kanpur.
Though the state and central government has been working earnestly in developing the Kanpur Leather Cluster, yet a lot remains to be done to make Kanpur the ‘Manchester of East’ which it was once famously known.