How crackdown on UP slaughterhouses is suffocating Bengal's meat, leather industry

With Yogi Adityanath's whip on UP slaughterhouses, the West Bengal meat and leather industries are feeling the blows as well.

The crackdown on slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh has had a cascading effect on the meat processing and leather industry in West Bengal.

Beef dealers in the state are largely dependent on supply from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Given the current situation in UP, the beef industry in Bengal is feeling the pinch with many complaining of a sharp decline in raw material procurement.

"Our dealers in Uttar Pradesh generally load their livestock in trucks and send them to Bengal. But they are scared given the current situation in the state. Supply has gone down by half," says Md Ali, president of Calcutta Beef Dealers Association.

According to Ali, his facility which used to process around 400 livestock per day now manages barely 150 - 160.

PRICE OF MEAT CAN GO UP

"Bengal and Kerala are the two states where cow slaughter is legal and livestock is brought from other states like UP," Ali explains, adding that if the supply remains hampered, price of meat may soon shoot up given the demand - supply mismatch.

Beef dealers are now planning to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking her intervention in order to normalise the situation.

LEATHER INDUSTRY FEELS THE HEAT

Kolkata is a major hub of leather products and accounts for over half of country's leather exports. There are more than 350 tanneries in the city which conduct about 25 per cent of the country's tanning.

The decline in supply means less raw material for the industry. After the meat is processed and packaged for retail consumption, the hide is mostly sold to the tanneries as raw material.

"We are worried how we will be able to meet our commitment to foreign buyers as orders are placed well in advance. If we fail to supply the finished good on time, we will have to give penalties," says Vinay Singh of the Calcutta Leather Complex Tanners Association.

HOW DO WE MAINTAIN SUPPLY?

Usually, 15-20 trucks of raw material is brought from UP but the number has come down to five to six a day. At the Calcutta leather complex, which is one of the region's largest such facility, production has come down substantially. "Earlier we used to treat around 20 million litres of affluent per day but now it is just 13," laments Singh.

UP and Jharkhand supplies 50 per cent of the raw material requirement in Bengal and the leather manufacturers are worried how they can maintain a steady supply line.

MAKE IN INDIA IN TROUBLE

If the situation continues, they fear neighbouring countries like Bangladesh will snatch the advantage as Indian manufacturers won't be able to cope with the international competition if they have to import raw material at a higher cost from abroad.

"Our PM Narendra Modi is talking of Make in India. At present it is a 12 billion industry and we are targeting to reach up to 24 billion. But how can we achieve that if the supply is disrupted," asks Zia Nafis, a leading leather exporter in Kolkata.

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