Cow slaughter ban could deal deathblow to leather industry

Friday, 22 August 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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KOLKATA: An estimated 2.5 million people in the Indian leather industry could find their livelihoods seriously jeopardised if a ban on cow slaughter is implemented.

The $4-billion leather industry faces the prospect of a virtual deathblow by the proposed ban sought by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the centre.

The Indian Leather Products Association (ILPA) said the bill to ban cow slaughter would "adversely affect" business and exports would be "badly hit".

According to ILPA chairman S.S. Kumar, the bill had clouded the future of leather trade at a time when the Indian industry was trying to increase its share in the international market.

Kumar said the association would try to lobby with the government against the bill because it would "create multifarious problems not only for the leather industry but also for the country's cattle population and milk production".

India's leather exports now are worth about $2 billion. The industry hopes to capture five percent of the global market by 2006.

Kumar said the controversy had come at a time when the industry was laid low by lack of funds from the government, which hadn't released money promised under the 10th five-year plan.

West Bengal, contributing to almost 16.5 percent of the national exports, would be worst hit.

The state government had been planning a leather exports park that would house about 300 units but the project would suffer if the ban was made binding for all states.

West Bengal's ruling Marxists have opposed the bill as a "politically motivated" move that would cause the country considerable financial loss and pose problems with leather production.

West Bengal allows slaughter of cows above 14 years under its Cow Slaughter Control Act.

The BJP, the Hindu nationalist group that heads the ruling federal coalition, is trying to push through the ban on cow slaughter but several of its own allies have objected to the proposal.

Opposition parties allege that the BJP is trying to garner Hindu votes by banning slaughter of cows, considered as holy by the community.

Failing to garner unanimity amongst its allies, the BJP Thursday announced that the proposal would be tabled in Parliament after an all-party meeting on the issue.

Several state governments have made it clear that they would not implement the bill even if it was passed by Parliament.

Source: IANS
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