BARGARH:Members of Bargarh District Bunakar Mahasangha (BDBM) on Wednesday submitted a petition addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through Collector Khagendra Kumar Padhi demanding exemption of handloom products from purview of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Bargarh weavers, whose economic condition has failed to improve despite Government initiatives, have finally begun to feel the pangs of 5 per cent GST on handloom imposed by the Centre. They alleged that it would further lead them into poverty and penury. They urged the Prime Minister to exempt handlooms and silk from the GST to ensure that the largest rural employment after agriculture is not curtailed.
In the petition, the association, while apprising the Prime Minister about jobs created by handloom sector in rural areas, said it takes about a fortnight to weave a saree by the entire family of a weaver. They sell it in local market to eke out a living. However, duplicate powerloom fabrics have hit their business hard, it stated.
Citing that both the Central and State governments have launched several welfare schemes for the upliftment of weavers to help preserve the ancient craft, they said handloom was exempted from all kinds of taxes since Independence. Under these circumstances, imposition of GST on the product is a harsh decision and would force weavers to quit the age old legacy, they added.
The GST would trigger unemployment among weavers. While there are about 80 lakh weaver families producing handloom products across the country, Odisha has about one lakh families of which 20,000 hail from Bargarh district and the families solely depend on weaving, they said.
The association said many weavers will be forced to give up the tradition of weaving and move out to different avocation to earn livelihood.
The copies of the petition were also submitted to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Handloom and Textile Minister Smirti Irani, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik, State Handloom and Textile Minister Snehangini Chhuria, Rajya Sabha member Prasanna Acharya, Bargarh MP Prabash Singh, Bargarh MLA Debesh Acharya.