TIRUPATI: A majority of powerloom weavers in Yogi Mallavaram village of Chittoor district have been rendered jobless due to the lockdown and partial curfew imposed to contain the spread of second wave of Covid-19. The village has more than 100 weaver families, which are dependent on powerlooms for their livelihood. The number of active powerlooms has come down to 20 now due to lack of raw material and work orders in Covid times.
Narrating their plight, Vedachalam, a weaver, said, “In the last 18 months, we hardly worked for two months on powerlooms. With travel restrictions imposed by the government to contain the spread of Covid, traders have stopped supplying yarn forcing us to shut the looms.’’ With no work on the looms, majority of weavers in the village have started doing menial jobs for their survival. “I am 53. Though I am ready to take up any job that comes my way, employers are refusing to offer me work citing my age,’’ he lamented.
Ramu, another powerloom weaver, has started working as a construction worker. “Most of us have turned daily wagers to make ends meet. Several weavers in the village have mortgaged gold and other valuables to sustain their families during the pandemic. The lockdown has dealt a severe blow to us,” the 35-year-old weaver rued.
Before the pandemic, more than 100 families in the village used to produce cloth on powerlooms, providing employment to about 300 people. Yogi Mallavaram used to be a hub of activity with yarn suppliers and cloth traders visiting the village from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and other districts in the State. Now, the weaving activity has virtually come to a to a grinding halt. With no work, majority of families have fallen into debts, he lamented. When asked if he got any financial help from the government, he said they have not received any aid though some officials visited the village long ago and collected the details of the weavers.