The five-year project seeks to address several challenges related to water use and pollution from the Kanpur leather cluster, which is partly responsible for pollution loads in the Ganges. The overall objective of the project is to reduce the effluent water discharged by at least 40% and to introduce alternative technologies and processes at tanneries with a reduced environmental impact.

Solidaridad, Stahl and PUM are working together with the local partners Uttar Pradesh Leather Industry Association, Small Tanners Association, Central Leather Research Institute and Ganga Pollution Control Unit. The latter is part of the wider ‘Clean Ganga’ initiative launched by the Indian government several years ago. Together these partners are to introduce environmentally cautious production methods and train tannery staff on best practices.

A Stahl Center of Excellence is to be established and, in addition, there are planned activities for educating downstream communities on efficient water use for irrigation and livestock farming. “We are well aware of the complex issues in the Kanpur leather cluster where some 400 tanneries discharge 50 million litres of waste water each day. We also understand that we alone cannot change the situation, so we have joined forces with industry partners and local authorities to contribute to the clean-up already underway of this iconic and sacred river,” said Michael Costello, Director Sustainability, Stahl.

The project is supported by The Sustainable Water Fund programme (FDW), a public-private partnership facility of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Global social and economic development agency Solidaridad is the overall project coordinator and consortium leader, while Stahl is the main private contributor and PUM provides technical assistance and training support from senior experts.