About us

The Central Leather Research Institute was established in Chennai (the then Madras) in the year 1948 to promote the leather industry in India to bring it on par with the leather industry in the advanced countries in the West. The institute was established to develop and promote indigenous knowhow for making various types of finished leather and leather products. Realising the need for taking the technology and technical knowhow to the industry for commercial utilization, CLRI opened its first extension centre at Kolkata. Although the centre started functioning in the year 1961, it was officially inaugurated on 22 April 1962 in a rented shed at Tangra, the heart of West Bengal tanning industry. In the past sixty years, the centre has played a commendable role in promoting the interest of leather industry in this part of the country by rendering its valuable services to the tanneries and tanning communities the communities in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and North Eastern Council States. Whenever there is a need the centre has handheld the industry and has guided it to navigate in uncertain situations to make transition, upgrade its position in terms of activity and tide over the crisis.

The centre made its appearance at a time when Cr-tanning was gaining popularity in the country.  Increasing realisation of the advantages of Cr-tanning process coupled with the restriction imposed on export of raw hides and skins in 1950s was pushing the tanning industry in Kolkata to produce export quality chrome tanned leather to maintain its export activities. Unbelievably short Cr-tanning process compared with the conventional vegetable tanning was an impetus, but the path was uncharted as the chrome tanning chemistry was new and complex. It was at this juncture, this centre came to industry’s aid. It gave the required confidence to the industry to experiment with Cr-tanning process and go ahead. The centre not only shared its knowledge with the tanners in the region, it also conducted practical demonstration at tanneries in Kolkata and neighbouring states including Bihar, Odisha, Assam and north eastern council states. With technical assistance from this centre, the Kolkata tanning industry could establish itself as the hub of chrome tanned leathers by the end of the decade.

The centre continued its work with the industry and guided it again during 1970s to make another successful transition from export of wet blue leather to manufacture and export of finished leather necessitated by the restriction imposed on the export of wet blue leather by the Govt. Even though this posed a far greater challenge to the industry, appropriate and timely support from the centre in terms of process standardisation, process adjustment, training, practical demonstration and troubleshooting service helped the industry to forge ahead. The kind of support that came from the centre was so well received by the tanning community that a tannery owner by the name Shri Hara Govinda Chowdhury donated a plot of land to CLRI for constructing the centre’s new laboratory in the midst of the industry as a token of appreciation. It is sweet memory to cherish that the present office of the centre is still functioning from the building constructed on this donated plot.

In the next two decades, the industry had to encounter two big challenges – i) Saving  Tangra, Tiljala and Topsia areas of the city from pollution by the tanning sector, and ii) further transition of the industry from export of finished leather to manufacture and export of leather products. The entire institute including this centre extended the much-needed support to the industry to tackle both the issues successfully.

Envisaging the need for acquiring the advanced techniques of leather goods fabrication, this centre sent its technical personnel to a very reputed technical school in France to learn the latest technologies of leather goods construction and later organised training programmes at the centre for the industry units to equip them with new knowledge and techniques acquired from abroad. This initiative from the centre put the leather products industry on a firm footing and gave it the required confidence to go ahead to create a special place for itself in the industrial map of the country for its supremacy in leather goods making and export.

The issue of abating pollution from tanning sector to save the city of Kolkata shook the entire state. It was too big and too complex for the industry. It is not about construction of CETP tta alone. It was also about relocation of the entire industry with its infrastructure and learning and practising of cleaner technology. It was again this centre with the backing of the entire institute which provided the required support in all areas starting from conceptualisation of the project to industry relocation through CETP construction and cleaner tech demonstration making Kolkata Leather Complex a landmark of cooperation between industry and the institute.

Since inception this centre has played a leading role in educating and updating the industry about new technologies and newer developments. Continuing this legacy, this centre organised a series of lectures for the industry covering all aspects of leather technology, technology trends, trade and business for about two years from 2012-14 under a programme titled ‘Programme for Implementing Emerging and Sustainable Technologies (PrIEST)’. In all, seventeen (17) lectures and two practical demonstrations were held during this period. The programme was very successful in broadening the science and technology horizon of the industry in experimenting with new and sustainable technologies. The pilot biogas plant installed at CLC in January, 2019 by CLRI is an outcome of the PrIEST. The Calcutta Leather Complex Tanners Association (CLCTA) is now running this plant, which is producing 25-35 M3 of biogas daily from tannery solid waste, to gain experience. Hopefully, this will pave the way for a large scale biogas plant to resolve the issue of tannery solid waste at CLC  in a sustainable manner. 

 

For Further Information Please Contact

Dr. Dipankar Chaudhuri
Scientist-in-Charge 
CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute Regional Centre,
3/1C, Mathewartola Road
Kolkata 700046
Tel: 033-23292381 
Email: clri.dipankar@gmail.com, dipankar@clri.res.in