Big leather exporters of the country are importing cow hides to meet the shortfall in domestic supplies caused by problems in transportation of the material from one location to another.
After the ban on cow slaughter was effected in some states, the leather industry had been adversely affected due to shortage in supplies of hides needed for exports.
"Getting adequate domestic supplies of good quality hide is a problem. Now big exporters are importing cow hides from Africa, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia," regional chairman of the Council for Leather Exports (CLE) of East, Ramesh Juneja said.
He said buffalo hides are available in UP and Punjab, as there is no ban on slaughter of the animal, but transportation of hides are a major hurdle as some outfits are creating problems during transit.
"Even old cows or hides of those animals which died of natural causes are also not allowed to be transported from one location to another," Juneja said. Cow slaughter is officially allowed in West Bengal and Kerala, but of only those animals which have become old, are unable to give milk and are certified by a veterinary doctor, he said. Juneja said importing of cow hides has now become a viable option as the rupee has become stronger against the dollar. He said leather exports are suffering badly and the target of meeting the $27-billion in the next five years will not be possible. The annual foreign exchange earnings from leather exports are $13 billion, he said.
During the first quarter of the current fiscal, there will be a 20 per cent drop in exports, Juneja said adding, reduction in availability of hides is around 25 per cent.