Dutch Royals impressed by Indian leather project

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima recently praised a Solidaridad-led initiative to reduce tannery pollution in the Ganges River. The royal couple was attending a tech summit in Delhi during their visit to India in October 2019.

The royal couple spoke with Solidaridad representatives at the summit about how they had succeeded in motivating stakeholders to participate in the programme. Tatheer Zaidi of Solidaridad Asia explained that the project partners initially engaged with the leading tanneries to pilot water-efficient and eco-friendly tanning technologies. The programme gained credibility and momentum when it became clear the measures increase the overall competitiveness of the tanneries, encouraging other tanneries to join the programme.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima at the Solidaridad stand during the tech summit

Dr Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health, also at the event, acknowledged Solidaridad’s efforts and assured it of the government’s support. The Indian government had already recognized Solidaridad as one of its sustainability partners in its mission for a cleaner Ganges. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, the Dutch Minister for Water and Infrastructure, also cited the project as the ideal PPP model within Indo-Dutch cooperation.

A cleaner River Ganges 

Launched in November 2017 with a contribution of 3.3 million euros, the project connects technical solutions with social and economic issues built around the overall objective of cleaning the River Ganges. It seeks to reduce effluent water by at least 40% and to introduce alternative technologies and processes with a reduced environmental impact at tanneries. 

One of the pioneering aspects of the project is the biological treatment of the wastewater to make it usable by vegetable farmers in drought-affected areas downstream.  It also aims to improve working conditions at the 400 tanneries in the Kanpur-Unnao leather cluster, India’s largest. Best practices learned during the initiative are expected to serve as an example for leather clusters elsewhere in the country.

The eco-friendly measures increase the overall competitiveness of the tanneries” 

A broad range of partners

A consortium led by Solidaridad implements the project of clean tanneries and water management. Dutch private sector support comes from the world's leading chemical company, Stahl. The Uttar Pradesh Leather Industries Association (UPLIA) and the Small Tanners Association of Kanpur are also contributing financially to the project. PUM Netherlands is the technical partner. The National Mission for Clean Ganga, Central Pollution Control Board, UP Pollution Control Board, Council for Leather Exports and Central Leather Research Institute are supporting the initiative for the Indian Government.

Learn more about Solidaridad's leather programme.