Handloom units in Gorakhpur facing crisis

May 18th, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by admin  

Gorakhpur, May 18 (ANI): Thousands of skilled workers engaged in the handloom industry of Uttar Pradeshs Gorakhpur district are facing a tough time. They believe handloom that has existed as a cottage industry here for decades, is facing a slow death.
Absence of proper market, increased electricity charges, and middlemens exploitative role has proved too harsh for poor weavers to carry on.
During 1984-85, there were about 25,000 to 30,000 workers associated with handloom industry. But faced with problems, they are compelled to take up menial work in other professions.
At present, the handloom industry is under the grip of local money lenders. The local workers suffer exploitation following absence of any government support for them to arrange cotton.
Earlier, there were handloom corporations and cooperative society who would purchase the local weavers prepared goods at fair price. But for about 15 years, these cooperative societies have stopped purchasing the handloom material from these small weavers that has led to a major set back for them to sell prepared material.
Also, there were government-run 14 cotton mills that were a major help for the local weavers. But since their closure a few years ago, the middlemen or local traders have taken charge.
A poor weaver earns just rupees 10 to 30 a day. It is insufficient to keep the hearth burning at home.
One such artisan is over sixty-year-old Abibu Nisha. She is busy preparing threads to complete a small order placed by a local handloom unit for which she had worked almost round the clock ignoring her health condition.
Despite her being associated to thread making for decades, her earnings have been trivial even for sustenance. Life has not been easy for her.
“We have been making thread since the last 60 years. After making 40 reels of threads, we get ten rupees. We could make 60 threads a day but the amount is not sufficient. How could we manage with such earnings? The increase in living cost is making life difficult to afford,” said Abibu Nisha, the artisan.
There have been many girls who took to thread making for it being a family tradition to roll threads despite their young age.
“When I return from school, I make threads and that’s how we earn our living. If we don’t do this, I would not be able to continue my studies,” said Farhad Jahan, another young spinning artisan.
There are thousands of poor weavers like Abibu Nisha or Farhad Jahan, engaged in the handloom weaving in Gorakhpur District of Uttar Pradesh who today share the similar plight.
Weavers blame the government for not paying much needed attention to this local handloom sector. But they hope against hope that somebody will pay attention to their plight.
With the general depression and a decline in export orders, many units have closed down leaving their workers to find work in power loom units.
“Some people have shifted to Nepal, some to Panipat, Bhiwandi and Bhilwara. While some who are left here sold off their land and property to establish power looms and some have been working in these power looms, said Mohamed Musil Ansari, General Secretary of Weavers Union, Gorakhpur.
The condition of these power loom owners is quite pitiable since the money invested here belongs to the Mahajans (local money lenders), who further exploit them badly,” Ansari added.
“Our only demand from the government is to stop declaring new pro-textile tycoon policies. It should institute a Commission to understand the problems of the handloom weavers,” he added.
In the wake of all the prevailing trends, over 500 handloom units have switched trades. The depression has also hit small dyeing units and cotton yarn units. (ANI)

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