Solidaridad-led “Clean Ganga” Project Recognized as Ideal Indo-Dutch Public Private Partnership Model

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, the Minister for Water and Infrastructure from Government of the Netherlands, is visiting India as part of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s delegation. On 25 May, as part of a workshop organized by the Indo-Dutch Ganga Forum in New Delhi, she recognized Solidaridad’s cleaner tannery and efficient water use project as an ideal example of a successful Indo-Dutch Public Private Partnership model.

A Promising Project to Clean The River Ganges

The five-year project is aimed at reducing the effluent water discharged by at least 40% and to introduce alternative technologies and processes at tanneries with a reduced environmental impact. It is working towards reducing the volumes and pollution levels of the effluent water from the tanning sector.

Immediate beneficiaries of this project include 250,000 workers in the regional tanning and leather industry (30% female) as well as the 30,000 smallholder farmers who depend on the re-use of the wastewater for their agricultural production. In addition, a Stahl-Solidaridad Center of Excellence will be established in Kanpur to demonstrate more sustainable technologies and train tannery staff.

Speaking at the workshop, Mrs Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said:

“It’s a very special model, and I like the ambitious nature of this project. I had an opportunity to briefly share about this project during my meeting with Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.

 I shared that Solidaridad's tannery project around Ganga is one of the first tangible deliverables towards our bilateral MoUs where Dutch Government has contributed 2.3 million euros. I am proud as a part of the Dutch government to be associated with this project.”

The Support of All Stakeholders Is Key

Mr D P Mathuria, Executive Director said that addressing the challenges of cleaning Ganga requires the participation of different stakeholders and shared his happiness that Solidaridad has been able to bring together different actors working in this space on a common agenda.

The panelists Dr. Shatadru Chattopadhyay, Managing Director, Solidaridad Network Asia; Mr. Tuncay Deriner, Managing Director, STAHL South Asia; Dr. Leon Husson, PUM, India and Mr. Mukhtarul Amin, Chairman, Council for Leather Exports discussed how the project addresses several challenges and contributes to the objectives of the National Mission for Clean Ganga.

Making The Kanpur Leather Cluster More Sustainable

The panelists also discussed the way forward to make Kanpur leather cluster more sustainable by implementing new working methods and state-of-the-art technologies with a lower environmental impact.

A consortium led by Solidaridad implements the project of clean tanneries and water management.  Dutch private sector support is coming from world's leading chemical company, Stahl which is contributing approximately 1 Million Euros to the project. The Uttar Pradesh Leather Industries Association (UPLIA) and the Small Tanners Association of Kanpur are also financially contributing 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 from the Indian Government.

Connecting Technical Solutions with Social & Economic Issues

Dr Shatadru Chattopadhyay, MD, Solidaridad Network Asia said:

“It is a unique project that connects technical solutions with social and economic issues built around the overall objective of cleaning the River Ganges. Solidaridad together with its partners is working towards the development and implementation of applicable, available, affordable and accessible water efficient and eco-friendly tanning technologies for tanneries.

This approach will contribute to the overall competitiveness of the leather cluster in Kanpur-Unnao and will be a major incentive for companies to adopt the processes. It will protect hundreds of thousands of jobs that are dependent on the tanneries and also improve the farming of downstream farmers who are getting affected due to polluted water."

Promoting Safer Chemicals & Training The Trainers

Mr Tuncay Deriner, Managing Director, STAHL India said:

“Stahl believes in actively promoting safe use of chemicals around the world, and we are well aware of the complex issues in the Kanpur leather cluster, and some 400 tanneries discharge 50 million litres of wastewater each day. It is not possible to bring about a change without joining hands with government authorities, civil society and industry partners. Hence, we joined forces with various stakeholders to contribute to the clean-up already underway of this iconic and sacred river." 

Dr Leon Husson, PUM, India Country Coordinator said:

“In the Kanpur leather cluster we shall assist the industry to improve their way of working through process optimisation and train trainers for hand holding of the industry towards the improved water and solid waste management. We will also assist in the development of simple self-assessment tool based on “Tanneries of the Future” document.”

The Kanpur-Unnao leather cluster is the largest in the country. Other main tanning and leather manufacturing clusters in India are located around Chennai and Kolkata. The technical and environmental innovations and the public-private approaches adopted by this project will also serve as an example for the leather clusters elsewhere in the country.

Learn more about Solidaridad's textile programme here