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Among CSIR’s many milestones has been the resurrection of the Indian Leather Industry which was on the verge of closure in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict ordering shutdown of nearly 400 tanneries in Tamil Nadu in 1997 due to grave environmental violations which led to pollution of vital water bodies. Stepping in the grim scenario, CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) in Chennai and CSIR-National Environment Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) in Nagpur, have since then worked relentlessly with the entire tanning industry in Tamil Nadu to enable the sector to gain environmental security through application of technologies and treat effluents in water bodies thus restoring livelihood of thousands of people.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences and Vice President, CSIR, in a recent announcement, highlighted the important role played by CSIR in the exemplary growth of leather industry in the country. CSIR has been taking this activity in mission mode so as to provide end-to-end interventions to leather industry to position them globally, he emphasized. This would provide a new impetus to MSMEs as well to feed to larger industry in the segment, he added. Also, CSIR is now taking this activity further in a significant way with a focus on micro-enterprise creation in rural setting, he highlighted.
Waterless Chrome Tanning- a game changer technology has revolutionized 150 years of chrome tanning process thanks to CSIR’s untiring efforts. CSIR-CLRI’s efforts to go for the waterless tanning technology has now found pan-India acceptance, with tanners in all clusters enrolling for its adaptation. It eliminates the use of water in tanning, shortens the processes before and after tanning, reduces the total dissolved solids in wastewater from this process by 20 per cent and brings down the usage of chromium by 15-20 per cent, resulting in saving of material. The water tanning technology has gained International recognition with several countries, including Ethiopia, South Africa, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Vietnam and Brazil evincing keen interest in this technology.
The Minister, expressed his appreciation and stated CLRI was using its research and Knowledge to strengthen Make In India & Skill India missions of PM Modi to generate employment oppurtunities. CLRI and other labs will now work in mission mode to design and make affordable, technologically superior sports footwear doe sports persons. “Fashion Forecasting’’ for leather is an initiative of CSIR-CLRI to bring to the fore the ability of the Indian Leather Industry to take pro-active measures in fashion forecasting and design development by providing a scientific leather product development focus in the areas of color forecasting, range building, design and retail analysis. The outcome envisaged is to strengthen the Indian leather product design capabilities, which would be reflected in product quality enhancement. Leather has linked rural farmer with global fashion market in India. About 2.5 million people are directly employed and 60% of leather items produced are exported. Leather is a case of rural production for global consumption. Innovating 250 new designs for ethnic Kolhapuri footwear and process standardization for product consistency are some of the important contributions of the institute, which have had a societal impact.