NELLORE/CHITTOOR: Coronavirus-19-induced lockdown has severely affected the lucrative handloom industry in Nellore and Chittoor districts. Weavers, who are without jobs, are diversifying into various sectors to meet their needs. Paturu, a tiny village in Kovur mandal of Nellore district, which is a hub of state-of-the art handicraft styles across the country, is nearly deserted.
Around 2,500 artisans and 4,000 other workers rely on handloom industry in Nellore district and 6,000 workers, including artisans and others, in Chittoor district. Around 10,000 handloom units are spread across Venkatagiri, Buchireddypalem, Sangam, Vinjamur, Gudur, Kovur, AS Peta, Podalakur, Venkatachalam and Nellore rural mandals. Similar is the situation in Madanapalle, Thamballapalle, Nagari, Puttur, Srikalahasti, Kalakada and parts of Chittoor district.
Pyna Ramaiah, 43, from Patur said, “I was involved in printing sarees, bed sheets and other cotton material for the past 25 years. Usually, cotton material is in demand during summer. But lockdown has changed everything. With a dearth of orders from the traders, we have no business. Due to this many have diversified into various fields, Ramaiah said.
“We have to rely on our skill to earn our daily wages. As for the owners, they get subsidies from the State government. No one is bothered about us. Unwilling to leave Patur, some weavers have been forced to take up menial jobs,” Ch Srihari from Patur said. Earlier, weavers in Patur used to make `250 for painting and other works. “We used to paint around 15 to 25 sarees per month, but it depends on the raw material we get from retailers,” he said.
Almost every household in Paturu is in one way or the other involved with the business. Most Paturu sarees are made out of silk, but cotton sarees with minimal designs take the cake. The rich cotton and hand-woven sarees are on par with Gadwal, Pochampalli and Venkatagiri sarees. Only a few traders are contacting the master weavers for some orders in this time. Not only in Nellore district, the situation remains the same in Chittoor district, as most workers rely on the industry for their livelihood.