In his presidential address at the 37th Leather Research Industry Get-together (LERIG) which opened here on Monday, Dr S Ramachandran, chairman of CLRI research council, said that ``benchmarking with global standards and partnership in research and development have become the order of the Day and CLRI was moving in that direction''.
Dr T Ramasami, director of CLRI told f48FE f45that the partnership with leather research institutions in Austria, Germany, Japan and Bangladesh would be formally announced on Thursday and the formal agreement will be signed on Friday. The US institution will participate as an observer.
The core area of research is `saltless preservation of hides and skins'. Huge quantity of salt is used by slaughter houses to preserve hides and skins. This salt get into the leather process stream and add to the pollution load of the effluents and total dissolved solids (TDS) in them. TDS is an elusive problem which is leading to the closure of tanneries.
Prof V S Ramamurthy, secretary department of science and technology, in his inaugural address said, ``leather sector has the potential to lead India to the 2020 Vision of President A P J Abdul Kalam. Growth of the industry to its targeted 10 per cent share in the global leather trade from the current 3.5-4 per cent was important as the industry touched the lives of over 2.5 million people.
Referring to the China syndrome that haunts the export industry in the country, he said ``by chasing the competitor nobody reaches anywhere. Indian exporters have to be competitive not by copying but by innovations and building on inherent strengths''.
Captains of the leather industry who addressed the gathering expressed their anguish over the pollution control board norms for achieving TDS levels for which there was no cost-effective technology.
Worldover tannery effluents are managed with mixing them with municipal effluents or disposing of the salt-loaded effluents to the sea. ``Both of these methodologies are not finding acceptance in India and especiallly in Tamil Nadu which accounts for 60 per cent of leather tanning in India and six per cent of the global tanneries,'' Mr M M Hashim, a leading leather tanner and exporter and former chairman of Council for Leather Exports (CLE) said.
``Even other states are understanding and lenient than Tamil Nadu in this regard,'' he added. The suggested solution of reverse osmosis technology also was found to be unviable owing to the exhorbitant power cost and the problem of the toxic sludge it leaves behind, he said.
LERIG, with the theme of `Global benchmarks for leather sector', will discuss topics like benchmarks on resource productivity, resource audit of chemicals, trade practices, system productivity, people productivity, machine and materials and environmental practices during the three days during Janury 28-30, 2003.
On Thursday, there will also be a round-table on `Environment and social audit'.
LERIG converges into the India International Leather Fair opening here on January 31.