Complete Information on Leather Industry in India


India has a long tradition of manufacturing leader and leatiier goods since Vedic times. Pres­ently India is die third largest producer of leather in die world after Italy and the United States. The industry is spread over body in organised and unor­ganised sectors providing employment to over 2 million people.

The small scale, cottage and artisan sector account for over 75 per cent of the total production. The industry is die fourth foreign ex­change earner through its exports. Exports from the leather sector today account for six per cent of India’s exports.

India has die largest cattie population in the world. The leather is obtained from the hides and skins of the fallen cattle, and slaughtered animals. The pelts of cattle and other large animals are called ‘hides’ and those of small ones like sheep, goats, etc. ‘skins’. The country produces about 133 million sq. meters of hides and skins. Kolkata, Kanpur, Chennai and Coimbatore are important markets for hides. Good quality goat skins are obtained from Darjeeling, Kolkata, Muzzafarpur, Darbhanga and Erode. The skins of the peninsular region are superior in quality.



Tanning is a process to convert hides and skins into leather. Two types of tanning processes are in use. The first process, prevalent in die country since last two centuries, utilizes the barks of avaram (Cassia auriculata), konnam, acacia, myrobalans and wattle. It is called vegetable tanning. The second process is a wet blue process which uses chemicals like dichromate’s, chromium sulphate, and ammonium with fatty materials like egg-yolk, olive oil, gluten of flour and fish oil. It is a new process.

The first tannery was set up at Kanpur in 1867 to meet the military demands of leather. Presently tanneries are mostly located in and around Kolkata, Chennai, Kanpur, Agra, Tonk, Mumbai, Mokamah (Jharkhand) Phulbani (Orissa), Bangalore, Belgaum, Sherbaug (Gujarat), Bliopal, Kapurdiala, Pallavaram, Tiruchchirappalli. Peramburand Uluru. Besides there are village tanneries spread over die entire country.



Tamil Nadu has the largest concentration of leather units in die country. Out of a total of 433 leather units, 67 are in the large scale sector and 132 units in the organised sector. The remaining are in the unorganised sector. Kolkata (200 units), Kanpur (25 units), Agra (25 units), Mumbai (10 units), Jalandhar (3 units), Sri Nagar (1 unit) and Jammu (1 unit), Hyderabad and Bhavnagar are important cen­tres of leather industry.

Chennai specialises in die production of light leather and clothing; Mumbai manufactures wet blue skins and some finished leader; Kanpur pro­duces quality leather for footwear; and the Kolkata units supply chrome tannest hides, chrome uppers and wet blue hides and skins.


The total production of leader was 106 mil­lion sq. meters in 1990-91. There is little fluctuation in the output. Leader is used in the manufacture of footwear, garments, suitcases, travel goods, bags, portfolios, ladies handbags etc. India is the second largest producer of footwear in the world after China. Its annual production is about 700 million pairs. There are 12 large factories manufacturing shoes and footwear’s. Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Batanagar (near Kolkata) is die largest footwear manufacturing unit in the country.


The major production centers are Chennai, Ambur, Ronipet, Vaniyampadi, Turuchi and Dindigul in Tamil Nadu; Kolkata in West Ben­gal; Agra and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh; Delhi; Jalandhar in Punjab; Dewas and Aurangabad in Central India; and Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh. In shoe making buffalo leather is used for making soles while cow leader is preferred for upper part. In 1980-81 India produced 143.43 lakh pairs of footwear’s which increased to 198.50 lakh pairs in 1991-92 and about 178,55 million pairs in 2002-03.


The total value of exports of leather, leather manufactures including footwear’s, garments etc from India was Rs. 2,600 crores in 1990-91 which has increased to Rs. 5,790 crores in 1995-96 and Rs. 9,938 crores in ‘2003-04. Among die importers, Germany leads with more than 20 per cent, followed by the U.S.A. at 18 per cent, Italy and die U.K. at 11 per cent each, France at 4 per cent and the rest 36 per cent. Russia is another important buyer of Indian leather goods. China and Pakistan are major com­petitors.

Efforts are being made to enter the markets of Latin American countries to expand the domain of exports. India’s share of world’s export of leather goods is only 4.5 per cent (cf. China 27 per cent and Italy 15 per cent). Our main items of export include footwear, garments, bags, bark tanned reptile skins, pickled goat skins, vegetable tanned hides and skins and blue wet chrome tanned hides and skins. In order to make up the shortage of leader, India also imports raw hides and skins from abroad. During 1988-89 the total value of such import was Rs. 44.83 crores which increased to Rs. 913.54 crores in 2000-01.


The leather industry is facing greatest chal­lenge from the environmentalists. Following die direction of the Supreme Court making obligatory to install pollution control devices many of the small tanneries and small units have been closed. The industry uses about 27 million cubic meters of water and three lakh tones of chemicals generating about 28 million cu. meters of effluents each year (Hindu Survey of Indian Industry, 1993, p.237). Rs. 60 crores has been spent to install effluent treatment plants and the monitoring work is supervised by NEERI and CLRI.

Tamil Nadu Agricultural Univer­sity has started a pilot project for use of treated waste water of tanneries for agriculture. Chromium sludge may be used for brick making. The CLRI is also taking suitable steps to improve the recovery of skins and hides from fallen carcasses. National Leather Development Programme (NLDP) with the assist­ance of United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and the Indian Leather Development Pro­gramme (ILDP) has been launched to improve the performance of leather industry.

The art of glass making was known to the India since ancient days. But the first factory of glass, on modern lines, was set up at Jhelum in 1870. After initial failure the first successful adventure was laid down in 1941. The Second World War proved beneficial for the industry. By 1955-56 there were 109 glass factories. The number rose to 148 in 1960-61 and 170 in 1977-78. Of these 56 are large units including 15 automatic plants. The installed capacity has also increased from 2.13 lakh tons in 1950-51 to about 7.50 lakh tons in 1977-78. The current production of glass is about 6 lakh tons.

Raw Materials


Silica sand, soda ash, feldspar and limestone are the chief raw material for glass industry. Good quality silica sand is obtained from white sandstones of Mangalhat and Patharghatta areas of the Rajmahal Hills; Lohagra, Bargarh and Shankargarh areas of Allahabad district; Sankhedaarea (along the Sabarmati river); Pedhamli area near Vadoiiara; and from d 2003.

Jabalpur, Hoshiarpur and Sawai Madhopur. Coal is used as a fuel. A large number of chemicals like borax, soda ash, selenium, saltpeter, manganese dioxide and colouring materials are also used in the process of glass making.


In India glass industry is organised both as a cottage and factory industries. The cottage industry, though spreads over different parts of the country, but its major concentration is noticed near Firozabad (Uttar Pradesh) and Belgaum (Karnataka). Firozabad is famous for producing glass bangles. The modem factory industry is distributed in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Bihar.

Uttar Pradesh has 28 glass factories mostly located at Firozabad, Shikohabad, Bahjoi (Moradabad), Hathras, Hirangau (Agra), Sasni (Aligarh), Balawali (B ijnore) and Naini (Allahabad). Firozabad specialises in the manufacture of glass bangles; and Bahjoi and Naini for making glass sheets. The Vindhyan sandstone from Lohagra, Bargarh and Shankargarh areas is the main source of silica sand for the industry.

West Bengal has 34 glass units located at Kolkata. Haora, Belgachiya, Belur, Rishra, Dumdum, Ranigaj and Asansol. The industry enjoys the advantage of silica sand from Damuda sandstones of Mangalhat and Patharghata; coal from Raniganj and Jharia coalfields and proximity of market centres of Kolkata and its industrial region. The industry specialises in laboratory ware, bottles and flasks.

Maharashtra houses 22 glass factories mainly located at Mumbai, Talegaon (Pune), Orgalewadi (Satara), Kolhapur and Nagpur. The industry spe­cialises in the manufacture of glass bottles, shells, flasks, lamp ware, beakers and sheet glass.

In Gujarat Bharuch, Vadodara, Morvi and Panchmahal are chief centers of glass industry. Tamil Nadu has 6 glass factories located at Salem, Chennai, and Coimbatore. Other important centers of glass indus­try include Dholpur and Jaipur in Rajasthan; Gondia and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh; Kandra, Bhawaninagar, Ambina, Patna, Bhurkunda and Kahalgaon in Bihar; Hyderabad and Warangal in Andhra Pradesh; Ambala in Haryana; Amritsar in Punjab; Bangalore in Karnataka; Alwaye in Kerala; Shahadra in Delhi; Barang in Orissa and Guwahati in Assam.

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