An expert panel has been constituted to specify the environmental compliance norms for the leather and textile sectors, Union Minister for Textiles Dayanidhi Maran said on Sunday.

Inaugurating the India International Leather Fair hosted by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), Mr. Maran said while pollution control measures to safeguard the environment were important for sectors such as leather, textiles or sugar, there should also not be an “overkill” by forcing stringent standards on these industries.

Stating that the constitution of an expert panel to provide environmental guidelines was an outcome of discussions he had with Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, Mr. Maran said the report of the experts from bodies such as Central Leather Research Institute and industry sectors would ensure that there was “no overdoing or underplaying” of environmental concerns.

Mr. Maran urged the leather sector to migrate from exporting raw leather to finished goods. Moving up the value chain was imperative to stay competitive in the global market, he said.

Noting that the leather sector was expected to add one million jobs to the current levels of four million in the years ahead, the Minister said it was to the sector’s advantage that India had no dearth of raw materials and was home to the world’s largest livestock population.

Habib Hussain, Chairman, Council for Leather Exports (CLE), said the last quarter of 2009 had seen the leather sector record positive growth figures after nearly a year of negative performance.

Mr. Maran later distributed export awards under various categories. Subas Pani, ITPO chairman, and Sanjay Leekha, CLE vice-chairman, also spoke.