Kanpur: No Longer The Manchester Of East!

Posted on April 3, 2013 in Specials

By Anand Sinha:

Kanpur, one of the industrial capitals of India, once boasted of being the Manchester of the Eastern world. The Elgin Mill, Lal Imli Mill and J K Mill used to be the most prominent mills in the production of textiles and leather products in India. Apart from them, chemicals, fertilizers, hosiery, two wheelers and engineering goods were also major industries in the city. But now, with the closure of almost all the mills, the city’s label of being the industrial capital is no more justified.


The Manchester of East is now at its deathbed. J K Mill, Elgin Mill and many other mills closed down in 1990s and 2000s and those left of that row like Lal Imli Mill are struggling to even survive. There are many reasons for the failure of the industries in Kanpur; one reason has been the inability of the industries to adapt to the technological changes and the market changes. Lack of infrastructure is another major reason for the failure of industries. There is a huge lack of power supply in the city which has always been a curse to the industries in the few years.

When the industries failed, the industrialists moved out of Kanpur and set up their businesses in other cities like Noida, Gurgaon, and Ahmadabad. Though the industrialists also suffered huge losses, the working class had to suffer the most. In the industries that were closed, all the employees were handed over forced VRS and at a young age, they were receiving pensions. The failure of industries has made a bad impact on the lives of the working class of the city. Most of them moved out of the city in search of employment and those who remained suffered further. There was no work for them now and many of them had to take up other professions like those of vegetable vendor, scrap dealer, tailor etc. the income fell short of the family demands like food, house, and education and the families had and are still having financial problems.

While some pseudo-intellectuals seem to be very happy with this ‘development’ as to them, the environmental problem of the city seemed to vanish with the closure of industries but Kanpur still remains one of the most polluted cities of the world. There is definitely something other than the industries that is responsible for the environmental problem of the city.

Despite this failure, Kanpur still is the highest revenue paying city of the state of Uttar Pradesh. But the state governments only seem concerned with the development of the state capital Lucknow as all the officials and delegate from outside come there.

The city of Kanpur is dying and is on the verge of industrial and infrastructural breakdown, the old system cannot suffice. It is high time now that Kanpur city builds up its legacy once again.