As the chemicals are mixed with water, a noxious vapor forms that clouds the air the tanners breathe. It can cause respiratory ailments and leaves an indelible stench on their unprotected skin and clothes.
The Rohta tannery. The stench of leather and open drains overwhelms. The tannery has not been modernised despite pleas. Local farmers want it evicted but the Dalits of Rohta know no other job for ten generations.
Tanning is the only business people in Shobhpur know, like these two brothers. Every home has a tanner and a tannery. They resent that the work is called 'unclean' when nothing has been done to make it cleaner.
Premwati, of Rohta, UP, stitches leather sheets using straw preparatory to tanning. Rohta's tannery was set up by independent India's first government. It is dilapidated from neglect and a recent earthquake.
The drying softer layer. Shobhapur residents are bitter over living conditions. They want drains, electricity. 'We made our children doctors, engineers, but society doesn't accept a Dalit doctor,' they say.
The hide is stacked after being salted to stop decomposition. The stench is awful but Shobhapur's workers have no choice. They cannot afford the cost of modernisation and have been appealing to government for help.