The crackdown against ‘illegal’ slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh has stumped the sports and leather industries.Not only has it hit the meat export industry and the 10 lakh people it employs, but it has also triggered waves of panic among Meerut’s cricket ball manufacturing units, Kanpur’s tanneries, the 11,000-odd shoe manufacturing units in Unnao and Hapur that operate from private residences, and the big leather export units in Agra. In Meerut, which is one of the major manufacturing hubs for sports goods in India, manufacturers say that with buffalo hide not readily available the cost of cricket balls has shot up by ₹30 to ₹40 per ball.Manufacturers worriedAnil Sachdeva, a businessman who deals in all kinds of all sports goods, said he had braced for an impact but did not expect it to be so swift. “Buffalo hide, which goes into making cricket balls, is not available because of the crackdown on slaughterhouses. Whatever little is available is priced at rates higher than usual,” said Mr. Sachdeva.“A cricket ball priced at ₹130 is being sold for ₹160. It will be a difficult time for our business if the ban continues,” he added.Anoop Singh, a contractor who supplies cricket balls to shops in Meerut’s Surajkund sports market, seconded Mr. Sachdeva. “Shortage of buffalo hide has left people like us, who manufacture cricket balls, worried. We are making do with the old stock for now, but the shortage of raw material has led to prices shooting up,” said Mr. Singh.The worst, however, is yet to come, he said. “If the slaughterhouses do not start functioning soon and the atmosphere of fear is not dispelled, then we may not be able to manufacture cricket balls at all,” he said.But all is not rosy for the few slaughterhouses that were not sealed. With cattle dealers fearing attacks from vigilantes, even legal slaughterhouses are not able to function. The non-availability of buffalo hide in the State has left the leather industry, which provides employment to nearly 25 lakh people, worried as well. Upendra Singh, president of the Agra Shoe Manufacturer Association (ASMA), argued that U.P. was the biggest provider of buffalo hide in India, which is the backbone for the leather industry. Continued non-availability of buffalo hide is expected to hit the country’s leather export business, which was valued at ₹38,396 crores in 2015-16.‘Exports to be hit’“Prices of leather goods have gone up by 15% to 50%. Raw material will become more expensive if the slaughterhouse ban continues. This, in turn, will hit the domestic market that provides shoes at reasonable rates and also affect India’s position in the international leather export market that is very competitive,” said Mr. Singh.Bharat Singh, president of the Shoe Karigar Sangh in Agra, told The Hindu over the phone that shoes would become dearer if the ban continued. “As of now, cow and buffalo hide is not easily available. Consequently, shoes are being manufactured at increased input costs,” said Mr. Singh.
In a move that will benefit 15 lakh farmers in Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Saturday announced to waive their outstanding irrigation taxes worth ₹207 crore. During his Republic Day address at the Police Parade grounds in Raipur, Mr. Baghel also called for a permanent solution to improve the economic condition of farmers. The chief minister’s announcement comes just over a month after his government decided to waive farmers’ short-term agricultural loans worth ₹6,230 crore and hike the MSP for paddy to ₹2,500, fulfilling the promises made by the Congress ahead of the Assembly polls.“Sinchai kar (irrigation tax) to the tune of ₹207 crore pending from around last 15 years as on October, 2018 will be written off. As many as 15 lakh farmers will be benefited from the decision,” he said.“Without freeing farmers from the clutches of debts, their condition and that of their villages cannot be improved. Therefore, in the first cabinet meeting, it was decided to waive loans to the tune of Rs 6,230 crore of around 16.65 lakh farmers,” he added.“To ensure good returns to annadata (farmers) for their produce, in the first cabinet meeting we fulfilled our promise to procure paddy at Rs 2,500 per quintal,” he said. To improve the economic condition of farmers a permanent solution has to be chalked out and a scheme that will yield long-term results should be introduced, he added. An extensive work plan is being prepared for the revival and conservation of village rivulets, conservation of livestock, production of organic manure and horticulture development, he said.“The remuneration of tendu leaves collectors has been increased from ₹2,500 per sack to ₹4,000 per sack, which will help in empowerment of forest dwellers and tribals,” he said. Mr. Baghel further said to ensure justice to the families of those killed in tragic Jhiram valley naxal attack in 2013, a strong step has been taken and a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted to probe the incident. Similarly, another SIT was set up to probe alleged scam in state civil supply corporation, which operates public distribution system in the state, he added. Briefing about other decisions of his government, Baghel said, lands acquired for a mega steel plant in Lohandiguda area of Batsar a decade ago are being returned to farmers.“To set up a large-scale industry in Lohandiguda of Bastar, land of more than 1,700 farmers was acquired. In ten years, neither the industry was established nor the farmers got back their land. No ideal rehabilitation policy was followed in land acquisition. After coming to power, we decided to return land of over 1,764 hectares in 10 affected villages to ensure justice to tribals. He alleged that freedom of expression was in danger in the state since the last few years.“Freedom of expression is the first condition of democracy and therefore, the state government has started drafting journalists protection law in support of a free press,” he said. Over the liquor ban in the state, Baghel said the government was moving ahead with caution on the prohibition.“The state government has created two committees for the purpose, one of them will be an all-party political committee and the other one would be from different sections of the society,” he said. A comprehensive campaign will be run to make people aware of the ills of alcohol consumption, he added. On the Naxal menace, Mr. Baghel said, “It is our resolution to put an end to the violent activities of anti-constitutional elements in the name of Naxalism.”He, however said, steps will be taken in the direction to reach a permanent solution after taking into consideration the views of the tribals, social workes, journalists, security forces and others. Earlier, the CM unfurled the tricolour and received guard of honour from the joint parade of various units of security personnel, National Cadet Corps, National Service Scheme, Scout and Guide students at the Parade Ground.
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