Business takes a tanning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 May, 2004, 12:00am

Tannery owners in Calcutta's Chinatown are frustrated at the Indian government's procrastination in establishing a new leather processing complex at Bantala so they can again set up business. The infrastructure at the new site is still not in place and owners are lost in West Bengal's red tape.

'How is one supposed to begin construction on the plot allotted to us? I'm still waiting for my plan to be approved and then to get building permission,' says Dasarath Das, who runs the Yan Chong tannery on a contract basis.

No one speaks out publicly, however. Candidates for India's general election have been canvassing in Tangra, but few expect anything from politicians.

'Our ancestors settled here more than 200 years ago, but we have never heard any political leader taking up our grievances,' says interior decorator William Mak.

With such a small presence, the Chinese prefer to keep quiet, fearing victimisation by powerful local leaders. 'I don't want to make a fuss, though I'm frustrated,' says one tannery owner. 'My capital and resources are being depleted because my business is almost at a standstill and yet I can't get going on moving it to Bantala. I'm in no man's land.'