Dubbing the Central government’s amended rule forbidding cattle trade for slaughter as a “death certificate” to the leather industry, leather exporters on Sunday threatened to move court and hit the streets if the ban was not repealed or modified.

Senior members of Council of Leather Exports, CLA Tanners Association and Indian Leather Products Association claimed that the decision was “legally null and void” as live cattle belonged to the powers bracketed under the state list according to the Indian Constitution.

“The centre should have discussed the matter with the state governments first. How can they come up with a unilateral notification on a state subject? We demand the centre immediately withdraw or amend the notification,” CLA Tanners Association General Secretary Imran Ahmed Khan told the media here.

“If the centre does not, we will approach the court, and also hit the streets as the centre has handed a death certificate to the industry, which will be hugely hit,” said Council of Leather Exports’ Regional Chairman (East) Ramesh Kumar Juneja.

Khan alleged that the centre’s decision was a fresh effort to finish off small industries and instead give a boost to multi-nationals and big companies.

“The small sector will be the hardest hit. The big companies and multi-national will only gain,” he said.

The industry leaders said the ban will rob 35 million people involved with the industry of their livelihood in the country, while exports would be halved from $7 billion to $3.5 billion.

Complaining that the industry was yet to overcome the crisis it faced after the demonetisation, the exporters said the latest decision would “finish our industry entirely”.

“After demonetisation, our business declined by 15-20 per cent. We did badly during Christmas. And the latest decision will finish our industry entirely,” said finished leather exporter Mohammed Zia Nafis.

Charging the centre with “intentionally targeting” the leather industry, Khan said hides of animals like cows and buffaloes are used in large scale by the sector. “And these animals have been kept under the ambit of the notification. The centre now claims that the decision was meant to stop cruelty to animals. Then why have they not mentioned animals like goats in the notification?”

Nafis alleged that the centre’s decision would only help Bangladesh, which has already eroded India’s grip over the sector.

“After demonetisation, Bangladesh gained considerably at our cost. The latest decision would further strengthen Bangladesh’s position,” he said.

Turning to West Bengal, the industry leaders said 200 tanneries in the state would be shut down because of the ban.

“We will seek (West Bengal) Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s intervention,” said Juneja.

The Union Environment Ministry on Friday modified the animal cruelty rules, making it mandatory to ensure cattle are not bought or sold for slaughtering.