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Published Date: May 1, 2000

Environmental Impact of Tanning and Leather Products Manufacturing Industry in NWFP (Pakistan) (W-55)

Mahmood A. Khwaja, SDPI
2000

Introduction

North West Frontier Province (NWFP) is the smallest of all the provinces of Pakistan, accounting for 9% of area (100,200 sq.km) and 13% of population (15 million). The northern parts of NWFP are well known for their natural beauty, old civilization and high mountains and every year a number of tourists visit NWFP from all parts of the world1.

Pakistan leather products industry is one of the major foreign exchange earner amongst the manufactured goods sector and is basically export oriented. Ninety percent leather is exported in finished form. During 1994-95, the export earning from leather and leather goods amounted to US $ 648 million2. In the same period about 40 million skins and hides were processed. There are over 600 tanneries in the formal sector and an equally large number of tanneries exists in the informal sector. In NWFP, the tanning industry made rapid development in late 1970s during which period five large size industrial units were established around Peshawar, Charsadda, Jandola and Jehanghira3. In the past, a number of small size units have been engaged in the production of sole leather by indigenous processes. Since tanning industry contributes significantly towards foreign exchange earnings, the number of tanneries is on the increase in Pakistan as well as in NWFP.

The existing environmental and resource management laws, at the national and provincial levels in the recent past did not adequately cover the subject areas and several were outdated4. Because of lack or ineffective implementation of legislative control, no pollution control measures are being adopted by the tanning units and the hazards to the environment caused by the effluents and emissions from tanneries is an acute problem. High illiteracy among tanners and general public, unrefined conventional leather processing methods and poor processing practices have further aggravated the pollution problem caused by the tanneries in NWFP.

A few reports on characterization and pollution load of tannery effluents, sludge, solid waste from tanneries in Punjab and Sindh provinces and quality of well water around tanneries areas in Karachi (Sindh) have also been published2,10-12  However, despite a number of tanneries/leather industries in and around Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda, which are in operation for over ten years, no such studies have been initiated in NWFP. In the present paper, the environmental legislation, the studies carried out on effluents from tanneries around Charsadda-Peshawar areas, the resulting environmental and health impacts, quality of underground water in/around the tanneries area and the findings from a survey of tannery and leather products manufacturing units in NWFP, are described and discussed.