The Mega Leather Footwear and AccessoriesCluster (MLFAC) project, supposed to come up on 110 acres of land at Bantala in Kolkata, has finally been cleared by the Central government. Dayanidhi Joshi, under secretary of the department for promotion of industry and internal trade (leather section) of Union ministry of commerce and industry, accorded the final approval of the project in a letter dated 3 October 2019 addressed to the secretary of department of micro, small and medium enterprises and textiles of West Bengal government.

“The department has given final approval to the setting up of the MLFAC at Bantala in Kolkata for a total cost of Rs.178.84 crores, out of which the share of DPIIT will be Rs 89.42 crores,” the letter stated.

Talking to The Statesman today, Mr Imran Ahmed Khan, general secretary of the Calcutta Leather Complex Tanners Association (CLCTA) said that now that the last bottleneck has been cleared by the Centre, the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), which is the nodal agency of the project, will set up basic infrastructure and common facility centres.

“Once the footwear project kicks off, Kolkata will be at par with Agra in terms of both upper and sole manufacturing in same location and in future we expect multinational giant shoe companies like Adidas, Nike, Reebok etc to make their products at this footwear park very soon. It will take another two to three years for production to commence,” Mr. Imran Ahmed Khan added.

Khan informed that about 100 units have expressed interest in setting up factories here and about Rs.2000 to Rs.2500 crores will be invested.

The Mega Leather Footwear Accessories Cluster will generate additional employment for about 60,000 to 70,000 people, he claimed. Already chief minister Mamata Banerjee has allotted 50 acres of land at Kalyani to the Farida Group, promoted by Rafique Ahmed, one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of footwear in India.

Farida Group has already tied up with Adidas and Nike. The world’s biggest integrated leather complex will be set up at Bantala on 1150 acres of land. In July this year the West Bengal government announced a fresh allotment of 187 new tanneries at Bantala. An additional 70 acres of land has been allotted, apart from the existing 202 acres of land for setting up the tanneries. The country’s biggest names in the leather sector, mostly from Kanpur, Agra and other places have been making a beeline to the state for making fresh investments due to lack of raw material in Uttar Pradesh since the Yogi Adityanath government came to power. About 60 per cent of the fresh investment proposals have come from Uttar Pradesh.

The land will be provided to the 100 units on footwear park and each unit will invest around Rs 20 to Rs 25 crores.