Experts from 'Sustainability Victoria', an Australian agency working on environmental issues in the state of Victoria, would visit India next month to kick-start the Tannery Waste Management Programme from Kanpur.
"The idea was given to us by IIT-Kanpur which will act as our local partners in the project. We will lend our expertise in finding a sustainable and viable solution to safe disposal of waste discharged by tanneries," CEO of Sustainability Victoria, Stan Krpan told PTI during a visit to the city.
Funded through the Australian development 'AusAID', the project aims to clean the river that is one of the five most polluted rivers in the world today. Krpan said that experts from the agency would explore social, environmental and technical solutions for Kanpur's tannery industry to provide it a sustainable basis.
"We will prepare a road map for the tannery industry by looking at all angles including finding a technical solution for waste management, community engagement for saving the river and regulatory issues as well," the official said.
It is envisaged that successful outcomes of this work in Kanpur will be replicated in other parts of the Ganga basin. Under extreme pollution pressure, the Ganga river faces significant threats to its biodiversity, environmental sustainability, and both the quantity and quality of its flow.
The tannery industry is regarded as the most significant source of industrial pollution in the Ganga river, particularly in the vicinity of Kanpur. Tanning involves the conversion of animal hides into leather.
The process includes dehairing and removal of flesh and fat, and treatment with chemicals to form stable, durable material.
Since the tanning units are located close to the river, they discharge effluents into the waters. Kanpur has around 500 such tanning units.
Victoria in south-east Australia had also faced a similar challenge from tannery pollution about three decades ago till Sustainability Victoria found a solution.
"We formed landfills for the chemical waste generated from the tanneries. Now we have to find a solution that suits the Indian conditions," Krpan said.
He said that Victoria's experience in cleaning up pollution in its rivers and managing statefederal relationships in Australia would provide a useful starting point for the challenges of managing water pollution in India.
An Australian company Earth Systems, which provides sustainability solutions to environmental challenges, is also partnering the project.