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Tanneries in Kanpur have received orders to stop wet processing three days ahead of Kumbh Mela, one of the world’s largest human congregations, held in India every twelve years.
The regional government has declared that only dry processing of leather is allowed to take place during the main bathing days of the Hindu pilgrimage, meaning the tanneries have to operate on zero liquid discharge as from January 11, 2016 to improve the quality of the water from the rivers.
According to local officials, the Ganges water has recently become reddish brown in Kanpur; the tanneries are to be regularly inspected during the congregation and strict action is to be taken against tanneries violating the orders.
Out of the 400 tanneries in Kanpur, 236 are said to be operational. For their part, the tanneries have assured that wet cleaning work would be stopped in a phased manner for 18 days between January 12 and March 7.
The Allahabad and Hardwar festivals are routinely attended over five million Hindu pilgrims. The last Kumbha Mela was attended by around 24 million people. Bathing in the rivers during the Kumbha Mela is considered an endeavour of great merit, cleansing both body and spirit.
The strict control measures leading to, eventually, tanneries partially closing down during the congregation are another economic blow to the sector, which still needs to recover from the damage caused by the floods in December 2015.
Sources: Times of India/The Hindu