PALAKKAD: :The handloom industry, which was a major source of revenue for many people in Palakkad, is facing a downturn as low wage coupled with lack of support from the government, is forcing handloom workers to shift to other professions.
‘Express’ on a visit to the weaving village at Kallanchira in Peruvemba met many weavers who are struggling to make both ends meet. They complained that despite giving several requests government has not taken any steps to uplift the downtrodden sector.
“Till 1995 thousands of weavers were working in this sector which is on the wane now. Now the total number of weavers here will not exceed 100. Most of the people left the profession and switched to other jobs like painting, security services and other daily wage jobs,” said Parameshwaran N, a weaver.
He also said that low wage is one of the key reasons why weavers leave the sector, and all other issues are secondary.
“For weaving a sari, it needs the labour of two people for two days and all they get is just `450 for one sari; each gets `225 for two days of work. How can one survive with a paltry `225. At a time people get `500 or over from other daily wage jobs weaving provides mere `200. Who would love continuing in this job? With the end of our generation this sector will extinct as none in our new generation wants to engage in this profession,” added Parameshwaran.
There were as many as 43 weaving societies in the district; of which only 14 are functional now and the remaining were closed down.
The condition of the functional societies is also pathetic and on the verge of closure.
It was through these societies the weavers were getting raw materials at subsidised rate and the farmers were getting an opportunity to sell their products through these societies.
“If the government opens the societies we would not have much difficulty in continuing in this sector. Government must do something to get the all the societies opened,” said Rameshan M, another weaver.
In yet another setback to the handloom weavers, the `3,884 crore allotted by the Central Government to write off the debts of weaving societies has not reached them owing to the criteria put forward by Nabard.
“After releasing the amount, the Central government entrusted Nabard with the task of distributing funds and the criteria fixed by Nabard for getting the fund was not favourable enough for societies to avail themselves of debt relief funds. As per the criteria, one cooperative society has to be in profit for three consecutive years for getting the funds. Going by the criteria, only 180 societies were eligible for funds in the state and the rest of the nearly 600 societies were rejected,” says A V Babu, secretary of State Handloom Cooperative Societies Association.
He also says that what came as a hope tuned futile due to the criteria fixed by Nabard.
“If a society runs in profit, what is the need of debt relief fund? We have given requests to the Chief Minister in this regard, but no action has been taken so far,” says Babu.