The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Update from Italy for local tanneries

For Calcutta tanners wanting to avail of the newest technology to upgrade the quality of leather goods, the Italians are here.

The Italian Trade Commission of the Government of Italy, along with the Italian Association of Machinery and Accessories for shoes, leather goods and tanneries (Assomac) and the Italian Embassy, on Tuesday, organised a seminar on relocation of tanneries in Bantala. They offered “the latest Italian technology” to upgrade the skill-set of tannery workers in Calcutta.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who inaugurated the seminar, said the tanneries could make use of the Italian technology to boost the industry. He also invited the Italians to set up tannery plants in the city, where there are about five lakh people, directly or indirectly, involved in tanneries, and produce leather goods for export.

“Bengal’s leather goods, constituting 21 per cent of the country’s production, are internationally recognised. Sixteen per cent of the country’s leather goods export comes from the state. So, we need modern technology and machines for quality to match the competition,” observed Bhattacharjee.

Commerce and industries secretary Jawhar Sircar assured the owners of about 80 tanneries attending the seminar that the government would try and provide land for setting up a training institute to raise the skill-level of workers with Italian technology. This was in response to an appeal by the chairman of the Council of Leather Exports, S.S. Kumar. Sircar said Bengal had exported leather goods worth $ 200 million last year, out of the national figure of $ 364 million. “We urge the tanners to learn the best available technology and utilise it,” he added.

A recent study by the Italian Trade Commission and Assomac on the city’s leather sector states: “These tanneries do not have the technological structure, the organisation and the production capacity to face the problems that the transfer will cause because of the economic effort required and the competition that will begin.”

The study, presented by tannery expert Silvio Repetto, also pointed out how unskilled labour, manual skinning in the slaughterhouses and incompatible machinery have affected the industry adversely.

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