NALGONDA: The state might have achieved progress in various sectors but the living conditions of handloom weavers in the district have remained the same even two years after the formation of Telangana state.
According to official information, as many as 18 distressed weavers have committed suicide in the past two years.
The district is home to nearly 30,000 families of weavers. Weavers procure raw material including thread, silk, chemicals and colors from within the state and also Karnataka.
The mushrooming of powerlooms and lack of government support are driving weavers to poverty and suicide. The government’s apathy to weavers is best proved by the meagre allocation of Rs 83 crore in the budget for 2016-17 for the textiles sector.
Of that amount, Rs 23 crore is for subsidy on purchase of powerlooms, Rs 40 crore for development of textile projects and the remaining for paying salaries to the staff of handloom and textile departments. But not a single penny has been allotted to the handloom sector. Besides, weavers are yet to receive their long-pending dues from APCO.
The governments of the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh state used to buy handloom cloth for supplying uniforms to government school students. It was done to support handloom weavers.
Even after Telangana state came into being, APCO purchased clothes from village weavers’ cooperative societies but owed the societies some Rs 3 crore even now.
Meagre income, lack of financial and marketing support are driving weavers to suicide.
Bontha Anjaiah (53) of Yellanki in Ramannapeta mandal committed suicide last month as he could not feed his family.
His wife B Mahalakshmi poured out her woes before Express. “My husband did not get orders for long and the cloth made by him remained unsold in the open market,” she said.
Anjaiah was a member of the local weavers’ society and he was one of the many to whom APCO owed money. “If APCO releases the money to the society, we can get our money,” she said.
Anjaiah took a loan of Rs 5 lakh from moneylenders to marry off his two daughters. “Under pressure from moneylenders to repay the loan, my husband committed suicide,” she said, alleging that the house-owner did not allow them to perform the last rites at the house.
The family did not even have the money to perform Anjaiah’s last rites and was helped by members of weavers’ societies and some Left party leaders who collectedg donations from villagers for performing the rituals.
“The negligence of the government was the cause of my husband’s death,” she said emphatically and demanded that the government pay an ex gratia of Rs 6 lakh each to the families of deceased weavers as in the case of farmers.
V Prabhu (48) of Pallepahad in Narketpally mandal consumed nitrate, which is used in dyeing, to end his life. His wife Hemalatha said the family had relied solely on handloom work for 30 years. “We cannot do any other work. My two sons are also involved in handloom work. With readymade garments sweeping the market, handloom clothes are not finding favour. We have taken loans from private lenders and failure to repay led to my husband’s suicide,” she said.
Handloom Weavers Society state seneral secretary Kurapati Ramesh said the government is indifferent to weavers’ problems. “We had given many representations to the CM but to no avail. In the Telangana state 18 weavers committed suicide. But only six of those families have been sanctioned government’s financial assistance of Rs 1.50 lakh. Pathetically, even that amount has not been released till now,” he said.
Handloom workers work in societies or under master weaver or on their own. But he gets only Rs 130 at the end of the day. The risk is very high and to get output the entire family has to involve. The meagre income of Rs 130 a day cannot sustain the family.