WB govt takes the shine off Tangra

Tangra is synonymous with the leather industry in Kolkata but the West Bengal government’s drive to push the leather tanneries out of Tangra, comes as a double whammy for the tanners themselves who are already feeling the heat of the economic slowdown.

Howard Lee manages the Wing Sung tannery. Originally set up within Tangra, this leather factory now operates in Bantala, a suburb in north-east Kolkata due to the West Bengal government drive.

In spite of shifting the main operation of tanning leather to Bantala, Howard has managed to keep the business going. The only problem is the slowdown.

Howard Lee, Co-owner, Wing Sung Tannery, said: The slowdown has affected business, we are receiving almost 50% less orders for export now because of the slowdown…

While some tannery owners have re located many others have made a lateral shift to a whole new business. One of them is Hseih Ying Hsing.

Tannery owner-turned-restaurateur Hsieh Ying Hsing said: “We had to move to an alternative business of restaurants because of the Supreme Court’s order of removing tanneries from Tangra. The transition has not been easy but we are doing well now.”

The Chinese have contributed a great deal to the socio-economic life of Kolkata with their tannery business but due to continuous waves of migration and government policy the state is at risk of losing out on the economic participation of this community.

But things are changing rapidly. The younger generations are moving to Canada and the US in search of better education and employment. It is time for the state government to sit up and take notice of the excellent tourism and business opportunities in Kolkata’s China Town.

courtesy: Deblina Chakravorty, UTVi