India has the largest number of livestock in the world. Leather goods and leather manufacturing has been done since ancient times. The industry has two sectors:
Indian leather industry is spread in the organized as well as unorganized sectors. The small scale, cottage and artisan sector account for over 75 per cent of the total production.
Though traditionally, the Indian leather industry has been an exporter of tanned hides and skins, it had, in the early seventies, set its sights on becoming a major player in the leather products segments.
Over the last 20 years and particularly so in the last ten years, it has become an area of export thrust with footwear having been identified as an area of extreme focus. Exports from the leather sector today account for around four per cent of India’s exports. Exports of leather sector went up from Rs. 3,036 crore in 1991-92 to Rs. 6,956 crore in 1998-99.
The National Leather Development Programme (NLDP) with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) assistance of about 17 million US dollars has been implemented by the Government for integrated development of the leather industry through the selected institutions/agencies in the country.
The major centres of leather industry are Kanpur, Patiala, Karnal, Agra, Jaipur, Delhi, Jalandhar, Pune, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kohlapur, Kapurthala, Bhopal, and Belgaum. The industry manufactures a long list of leather goods. Bata, Carona, Tata, Liberty, Wason, Bajaj, Lakhani etc. are major companies engaged in the industry.
A new Plan scheme, titled Indian Leather Development Programme (ILDP) has been approved under the Ninth Plan. Under ILDP a new scheme namely Tannery Modernization Scheme has been introduced with effect from 18 January, 2000.
Under the Scheme, there is a provision to provide 30 per cent of cost of machines required for modernisation as interest free assistance to small scale units. In case of non-small scale units, the assistance is limited to 20 per cent of cost of machines.