Srinagar, Feb 19: Owing to government’s negligence, losses, and lack of infrastructure, Kashmir’s leather industry is dying a slow death. People associated with the industry said their businesses have gone down by up to 90 per cent According to the mutton dealers in Srinagar, every month, 1,80,000 sheep hides are transported as a raw material for the leather industry to other states of the country. He said they mostly transport the sheep skin to other states of the country, as there are only one per cent takers in Kashmir. “Since 2014, the business is dying a slow death because the price for per sheep skin has declined from Rs 400 to Rs 30 to Rs 40 which is a huge loss. This loss is because of the government negligence and the meat politics in the country. We are suffering a huge loss,” said, Mehraj-Ud-Din. He said since the BJP took over, it has been reign of ruin and since then the leather industry is dying. Assistant Director Handicrafts, Mushtaq Ahmad, said the leather-based activities have halted since the fur business was banned in the state in 1997. “Leather business was associated with the fur industry which was banned in 1997. Due to the fur ban leather industry was affected and now it’s on decline,” he said. He said the department has no plans for the revival of the leather business in the state. “Around six hundred artisans were associated with the leather business. Most of the artisans were from Chattabal area. Some of the artisan have switched to other industries,” he said. “Earlier, the government had initiated Rs 2 lakh financial handholding to the artisans. But currently there are no such plans. Some consistent steps may be taken only after some DPR’s are made,” he said. He said that through the census the department is going to enlist the artisans who are associated with the trade. Altaf Hussain, an Artisan from Khanyar, said the downfall of leather business in Kashmir is a grave issue which is being neglected by the government. Hussain’s shop was once known for the leather products but now he opens his shop at Khanyar once or twice in a week. “Leather industry in Kashmir is struggling for its survival. Nobody is taking it seriously. This business is dead.” Nisar Ahmad, who is running a shop of leather products under the name of “Good Luck Leather House” at Chattabal areas of Srinagar said that the Kashmir has a great potential to take the leather business to new heights but unfortunately government makes no such efforts to boost the industry. “If the government would seriously make efforts to develop this sector in Kashmir, it can attract international investors and help to provide employment to unemployed youth,” he said. He said that the 80% of the raw material for making leather products from the valley goes to different states of the country. “Before three years, I got different offers from foreign countries. I had to train the people how to make the leather products and they offered me money in Lakh. But I could not go because of my family,” he said. He said that despite having talented artisans and availability of raw material, the leather business has declined by 90%. “We have raw material here, as a huge number of sheep are being imported. But still, we don’t have such units where raw material can be processed and we will not have to pay huge money to outsiders,” he said. Like Altaf and Hussain, there are number of artisans in Kashmir who believe that the leather business in Kashmir “is the most neglected sector”. “Government should make positive efforts to provide facilities in the units where artisans can work together and produce innovative products and get paid as per their art and work,” said Manzoor Ahmad, another artisan from Chattabal.