Composite mills likely to return as clothier for common man

March 24th, 2008 - 10:44 am ICT by admin  

By P.S. Anantharaman
Ahmedabad, March 24 (IANS) A wheel appears to be turning a full circle in the textile industry. The power loom sector, which in the mid-1980s became the common man’s clothier edging out composite textile mills, is now under pressure to produce an “exclusive” range of fabrics, leaving the production of common fabrics to the composite sector. This role reversal has been suggested by Arun Jariwala, chairman of the Surat Art Silk Cloth Manufacturers Association, in an article for Textile Review magazine, published from the city.

The reversal of role, according to Jariwala, is “unavoidable because of the changing market conditions both at home and abroad.”

He said the future prosperity of power looms lay in making a “foray into sectors like home textiles and furnishing fabrics” to grow and sustain themselves in the tough competitive environment.

The power loom industry has a bright future if it adopts new technologies. “To do so, the governments at the centre and in the states will have to make corrections in their fiscal and monetary policies,” Jariwala told IANS.

Also, while inking free trade and preferential tariff arrangements with different trading blocs, the government should be careful to ensure that the textile industry was not adversely impacted, he added.

As per the union textile ministry, till March 31, 2006, the power loom sector - which produces various cloth products including grey and processed fabrics - consisted of 430,000 units with 1.94 million power looms.

In Surat, there are about 750,000 power looms. These along with 150,000 processing units, 25,000 texturising units, 50,000 embroidery units and 250,000 cutting, packing, dispatching and ancillary units provide employment to 1.25 million people in and around Surat.

Ironically, the growth of power looms was a dominant factor that contributed to the sickness of the organised textile industry as composite mills lost ground to power looms due to greater cost effectiveness of the latter.

The composite mills have facilities from spinning to printing fabrics all under one roof. According to the industry’s statistics, there were 281 composite mills of which 125 were closed.

One of the most adverse impacts of power looms was on the textile mill industry of Ahmedabad, once known as the Manchester of the East. While many mills went out of business, those that survived were the ones which switched over to the production of an exclusive range of fabrics or took to the production of denim fabrics as Arvind Mills Ltd had done.

Jariwala said Surat and surrounding south Gujarat have emerged as the biggest centre of the art silk weaving industry in India where more than 500,000 power looms were working, producing about six billion metres of cloth.

The industry is now better equipped to meet the challenges of global competition. But in order to grow fast, the industry is planning to replace traditional looms with shuttles or automatic shuttle looms and is also changing over to installing wider width looms.

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