Thursday, February 25, 2010




Leather industry in Tamil Nadu is considered to be very ancient and some say it is of more than two centuries old. The art of tanning of hides and skins is prevalent here since time immemorial. Once it was done in primitive tanning methods and passed on with some improvements from generation to generation.

After Independence, the leather industry has made a rapid technical and technological advancement, thanks to the efforts of tanners, technical know-how of the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) and well chalked out policies of the governments in the state and at the centre based on the recommendations of the Seetharamiah Committee report. Many people established modern tanneries and started doing high quality finished leather meant for shoes, garments, goods, upholstery etc. Many modern units also came up for shoes, garments and goods. All these show that a tremendous industrial development has taken place within a period of about 30 years. No doubt, our country is very much on the forward march....


The All India Skin and Hide Tanners and Merchants Association is a 92 years old apex body and various district and regional associations are affiliated to it. Both the central and state governments have recognised it and consult on all policy matters such as labour, taxation etc. It is also in the service of tanners in importing and supplying tanning materials like wattle extract to them. It is also associated with many national and international trade and industry organisations. It celebrated its platinum jubilee in a grand manner in the year 1994. The present President and Hony. Secretary are Mr. M. Rafeeque Ahmed and Mr. Mohan M. Sreenivas respectively.


According to Aishtma, Tamil Nadu is in the forefront in leather with an annual production of more than 1.2 billion sq. ft. of finished leather. It is about 60% share in total finished leather production of our country and 45% share in total export from India. There are about 750 tanneries in Tamil Nadu and the raw material processed per day is 500-1000 tons and annual turnover more than Rs.10,000 crore, number of operational CETPs is 16 catering to 630 tanneries, number of ETPs is 94 and there are more than 56 RO plants in Tamil Nadu. No tannery operates without access to any Effluent Treatment Plant and 100% connectivity to pollution control devices is a speciality of Tamil Nadu.

There are 497 leather products units in Tamil Nadu producing about 59 million pairs of full shoes, 27 million pairs of shoe uppers, 7.1 million pieces of leather garments and 29.5 million pieces of leather goods. The quality of various leathers being produced here is of high standard and comparable with that of any advanced country. Consequently the state of Tamil Nadu once popular for E.I. Tanned hides and skins throughout the world particularly in countries like the U.S.A., the U.K., Italy, West Germany, France, Japan etc. is now popular for leather and leather products in these and many other countries. While Chennai, Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Pernambut, Ranipet, Trichy, Erode and Dindigul are the main centres for leather, Chennai, Ambur and Ranipet are the major hub for leather products such as leather shoes, garments and goods. Our country has earned laurels as a good and reliable supplier of leather and leather products in the world market. Interested persons can contact the following association which is, as said earlier, an apex body of different district and regional associations:

The All India Skin and Hide Tanners and Merchants Association,
“Leather Centre”,
43/53, Raja Muthiah Road, Periamet, Chennai – 600 003 (India)

Telephone: 0091-44-25610636, 25615247 Fax: 0091-44-25615292
E-mail: and


Dindigul is still a well known centre as before for E.I. tanned goat and sheep skins as most of the tanners here are addicted to doing only this popular item due to various reasons. There are very few tanners in the chrome tanning and no tanner seems to be producing finished leather here. A reliable and traditional tanner who has inherited this trade from his forefathers told me that the present situation is not conducive for switch over to anything like full chrome, semi chrome or finished leather. The association also does not permit it as pollution is involved. Other problems such as labour and water are also there. The progressive policy of the government has not changed this tanning centre much.

While the leather industry has suffered, textile industry has made a good development here in Dindigul. It is said that there are more than 250 spinning mills here.

Other popular centres are Trichy and Erode. There are many tanneries in Trichy where mostly high standard E.I. tanned goat skins are produced and in the Erode tanneries wet blue cow hides are the main items done. Only very few tanners do some other leather items.


This small town has about 35 tanneries where mostly items like buffalo hides and soul leathers are made for local supplies. Some are also exporting these items. Some shoe factories have also been established here. They are mostly doing job works. Much development is not seen here as perhaps there is nobody to guide them for adopting modern approaches for finance and industrial developments.


There are quite a large number of tanneries and leather goods, shoe and garment factories in different parts of Chennai mainly at Pallavaram and Madhavaram where different items of leather and leather products are made and supplied to national and international customers. There are so many highly modern units where high quality leather and leather products are made and exported.


In Ambur, a well known centre for leather, there are quite a large number of tanneries where E.I. tanned goat and sheep skins, S/C and F/C finished leather etc. are produced. Some of the tanneries are very big and modern with all necessary machinery and infrastructure where high class finished leathers meant for shoes, garments and goods are produced and exported. Importers in different countries have close links with Ambur based tanners and exporters and do big contracts as goat and cow leathers are available in plenty here with international standards. There are very few sheep tanners here. This town has also made a name for its well equipped and well infrastructured modern shoe factories where high standard world class foot wears are made and exported to many countries including the U.S.A, U.K, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain.

At the time of writing this two industrialists come to my mind who were instrumental for the industrial development here. If I remember correct while the late Anaikar Abdul Shukoor sahib started doing finished leather silently before the government introduced its progressive policy, the late T. Abdul Wahid sahib was also a pioneer in following the government policy and asking tanners to do it for their better prospects in the industrial arena. The latter had to face even criticism for his well intentioned actions. But now the leather industry realises their importance and their foresight.

Another centre famous for the leather industry is Vaniyambadi. Here again there are quite a large number of tanneries where items such as E.I. tanned goat and sheep skins, S/C and F/C finished leathers are made, locally supplied and exported. There are also innumerable job tanners here. It is the best place for dealing in sheep items. We can say that it is the leather tanning centre with the largest number of tanneries in Tamil Nadu. No other centre has as many tanneries as Vaniyambadi does.

Vaniyambadi is just about 30 minutes drive from Ambur. While there are more tanneries in Vaniyambadi, there are more shoe units in Ambur which are supplying to the best shoe companies abroad. These two neighbouring centres are playing an important role in the development of the leather industry in the country.


Ranipet has a large concentration of tanneries like Ambur, Vaniyambadi and Chennai processing hides and skins from raw to finish. Various descriptions of leather such as lining, upper and suede leathers are made here for supply to national and international customers. There are also some job tanneries here. Besides these, there are many highly sophisticated and modern units where world class shoes, garments and leather goods are made and exported. SIPCOT industrial complex is also here. It is yet another well known place for leather and leather products in the world market.

( Indian Leather, February 2010)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


FINDING GOD BY SERVING MANKIND: Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) said: God will say, ‘Son of Adam, I fell ill but you did not visit Me.’ He will say, ‘O Lord, and how could I have visited You! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My so and so servant had fallen ill and you did not visit him? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him?’‘Son of Adam, I asked you for food but you did not feed Me’. He will say, ‘O Lord, how could I have fed You! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘My so and so servant asked you for food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that with Me?’‘Son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink but you did not give Me.’ He will say, ‘O Lord, how could I have given you to drink! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘My so and so servant asked you to give him to drink and you did not give him. Had you given him to drink you would surely have found that with Me’. (Muslim: Abu Hurayrah)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010



Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr. Ashok Chavan, with his timely and effective action in allowing the film My Name Is Khan to be screened in Miumbai, has proved that a state can get the support of its people and control any anti social elements, however powerful it may be, from taking the law into its hands. Kudos to him for handling the situation efficiently.

Mumbaikars also deserve praise for their bold stand against the Shiv Sena. It is time people be alert and suppoprt only good causes without blindly following any political party. Our approach should be issued based and not party based.

(Deccan Chronicle dated 16th February 2010)


Monday, February 1, 2010





If anybody in India or abroad wants to know the history of the leather industry, the best thing for him or her is to have a copy of the book "Five Decades of Leather - a journey down memory lane" so beautifully penned by Shri S.Sankaran and published by Indian Leather with a good get-up.

The author late Shri S. Sankaran was a gentleman par excellence who was associated with the leather industry for more than 50 years. Before starting Indian Leather in 1967, he had served in some famous companies like Raitan Pvt. Ltd. as partner, director etc. It will be interesting to know for many that he and Dr. K.T. Sarkar were appointed as Secretaries of the Indian Leather Fair Society by Dr. Nayudamma, director, Central Leather Research Institute after it was decided in a meeting held in CLRI in 1963 to organise a leather fair and he had conducted the fair year after year till 1985 when the Trade Fair Authority of India decided to organise it as India International Leather Fair. One can imagine his long and dedicated services to the leather industry during those years which were totally different from the present advanced situation.

The book "Five Decades of Leather" is an excellent chronicle which throws light on many aspects of the leather industry and its stalwarts. I have not come across a book of this standard on the leather industry before. I feel that it is a must read for everyone who wants to get knowledge about the industry. Shri Sankaran relates so many things in the book which are thought provoking and make us think with all seriousness. The fact is that only those tanners who wanted to progress and adopted the new progressive policy of the government have been successful and even made others connected with the industry successful. There must be people to show the direction in every field of activity and more so in trade and industry. Shri Sankaran was close with Dr. Nayudamma, the then director of the CLRI. Once they went together to meet tanners in North Arcot district. Let us hear about it from the author himself. He says inter alia as follows:


"Once he (Dr.Nayudamma) planned a tour of tanneries in North Arcot district and invited me to join.......In Pernambut we stayed for the night at the Bangalow of Hajee Mohammed Ghouse saheb. Next day we visited the tannery. Dr. Nayudamma suggested that Hajee saheb should switch over to finished leather as his tannery was in those days well known for the quality of E.I. cow hides.He said "Doctor saheb, now whenever your scientists want they come to me but if I change over to finished leather, I have to be at their mercy, waiting for their convenience. Do you want me to change over? Nayudamma heartily laughed and asked him to continue as he was."”

After reading this I felt that perhaps the late respected tanner was living in his own world and failed to grab the excellent suggestion from the President Award winning scientist. I still remember how CLRI was struggling to make tanners change over to better tanning and make progress in the leather industry. Time was there when the CLRI was appealing to students to join its diploma courses in leather technology and other subjects conducted by it. There were very few students. Those days were totally different. Today CLRI is in a far better position and industrialists from different parts of the country approach it for so many services at its disposal. Its role for making the leather and leather products industry what it is today is really great and praise-worthy.

I am giving below another interesting but unfortunate incident mentioned by the author for the information of readers:

"There were some complaints from the industry that CLRI was rather far away and tanners did not find time to go to the institute for information. This came to the notice of Dr. Nayudamma. He asked N.S. Mani, Public Relations Officer and me to be available at the premises of the Southern India Skin and Hide Merchants and Tanners Association, Periamet from 3 to 5 P.M. on a particular day of the week so that tanners could meet Mr. Mani and ask for information. Later Mani would get the replies from CLRI and offer them. We patiently waited for visitors but none would come! After a few weeks we called it a day and stopped this service."

Is there any big change now? Of course things are better now, but not as bright as they should be. Even now many important meetings and get-togethers of organisations like CLRI, Council for Leather Exports, etc. are attended by only a few routine members who are big industrialists and or holding high posts. A glance in the proceedings of the meetings will prove it! The meeting called for by the CLRI to discuss the norms for identification of finished leather also drew only a few tanners and exporters.

Shri Sankaran deals in detail with many interesting happenings under headings ILF-CLRI Co-operation, The Leather Salon, The Leather Club, The Fashion Parade, Introducing Humane Slaughter, Cheap Shoes for Children, Ministerial Patronage, etc. We have to read the book to enjoy all this. The taste of the pudding is in the eating!

The history of the development of leather from early years has been given in detail. The author says interestingly that “Lord Shiva wears a tiger skin, uses a deer skin to sit on. Certainly, some process must have been done to them after the animals had died. Can it be assumed that this process in later years was termed “tanning”? ....In the Rig Veda there is reference to animals being skinned. In 1640 Dutch traders seem to have exported leather articles to Japan. But leather as an export item figured in statistics of the Calcutta port only by 1814...”

The author also deals with many aspects of the industry such as industry development, structure and growth, pioneers of the industry, export promotion, service organisation, architects – past and present etc. etc. which are full of interesting and inspiring information. It is difficult for a reader to stop in the middle.
The photo gallery in the book about development of CLRI and photos of the past and present dignitaries of the leather industry with brief but interesting notes about them are really awe inspiring. I felt that the details of the leather industry given in the book are as fascinating as a good novel.

The Central Leather Research Institute and governments in the states and at the centre will do well to make this book available in all libraries to enable all – industrialists, technical experts, businessmen, teachers, research students etc. – to know the history of the leather industry in Tamil Nadu. (VMK in Indian Leather, February 2010)