A well-planned lockdown with reasonable restrictions and relaxations seems to have protected India’s leather industries from complete failure, as exporters are getting through the hard times with only minimal production losses.

“Long term damage to the industry was avoided because of the way the lockdown restrictions were enforced. Except for a week of total lockdown, we managed to operate the units with the permitted number of heads,” said M Israr Ahmed, regional chairman (south), Council for Leather Exports (CLE).

Unlike the first wave of the pandemic, the exporters continued to receive orders from overseas clients and managed to fulfil the supply commitments, though with a delay of two to three weeks. “We could manage to serve our clients by sending consignments as we were allowed to operate with certain number of workers. Customers accepted when we sought two to three weeks time to supply,” he noted.

When there was a week’s total lockdown, the leather goods manufacturing units suffered a 100% production loss. However, the operations resumed with the stipulated number of workers. Large companies engaged in exports hired transport vehicles to ferry workers up and down by following norms.
Exporters were at first under pressure when the total lockdown was announced. However, they found the going easy because of the leeway offered to industrial activities. 

“The peak period is from May to July. The industry was very much willing to cooperate with the lockdown norms because we were allowed to operate with conditions,” Israr Ahmed said. From last week, the leather exporters have been permitted to operate with a full capacity workforce. Tamil Nadu is a leading contributor to India’s leather exports.