Indian handloom is finally getting the recognition it deserves (National Handloom Day is on August 7)
On National Handloom Day, weavers from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand today protested outside the National Handloom Development Corporation Limited (NHDC) here, alleging that yarn supply has been stopped to them since April and their dues are pending with the public sector undertaking.
Handloom weavers from Etawah, Moradabad, Varanasi, Barabanki, Sitapur, Udham Singh Nagar, Jaspur in Uttar Pradesh and Kashipur in Uttarakhand protested outside the NHDC headquarters in Greater Noida this morning.
The weavers, under an umbrella association Uttar Pradesh Bunkar Sangharsh Samiti, demanded that the supply of yarn to them be resumed by the NHDC.
"Despite the central government's ongoing Yarn Supply Scheme, NHDC has not been able to supply threads to the weavers of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand since April 1," the union said in a statement.
"It's the National Handloom Day today, but we have not come here to celebrate it. This is bunkar barbaadi day (weavers' destruction day) and the NHDC is responsible for it," the statement added.
The prime minister had started the Yarn Supply Scheme to eradicate unemployment among the weavers and uplift them. Under this scheme, the NHDC had issued Yarn Pass Books to weavers, according to the statement.
"Accordingly, one weaver would get 30 kg of yarn in a month. But since April 1 this year, the NHDC has stopped supplying yarn to weavers of the two states despite the central government continuing the scheme," they claimed in the statement.
"They have assured us that the supply would resume soon and that payments and other pending dues would be cleared soon," Ansari told PTI.
The union has demanded that the supply of yarn, which has been stopped since April, be resumed and they also be given the yarn for this period.
"The weavers have also spent their own money on logistics which gets reimbursed by NHDC but has not been paid for months. This money should also be released," he said.
Ansari said the weavers pay money to the NHDC to get the yarn on subsidised rates. The agency procures it from private mills.
He claimed that the money which has been paid to NHDC by the weavers has not reached the private firms and that is why they have stopped the supply of the yarn.
"All such pending dues toward the private mills be cleared by NHDC so that the yarn supply could resume," the statement said.
Stating that several weavers have been rendered jobless due to the stoppage of yarn supply, the union warned that the NHDC is to be blamed if any weaver commits suicide, according to the statement.
He added that many others wanted to come but the could not due to financial constraints but have donated to the best of their abilities to make their appeals reach those in power.
Weavers from Uttarakhand are also registered in UP under the scheme.
Ansari said weavers are a "poor lot" being "neglected" by the government.
"We used to get 30 kg of yarn every month which would cost us between Rs 7,000 to Rs 9,000. The subsidy in it was 10 per cent but there was a GST of 5 per cent on it," Ansari, 65, explained.
Abdul Salaam Ansari, the union's Morabadad unit chief, said the weavers can make articles such as bed sheets and stoles worth 30 kg from the same worth of yarn -- 30 kg.
"We have to go from haat to haat (traditional Indian markets) to sell our products. All this effort fetches a weaver a profit around 4,000 to 5,000 per month," he said, lamenting that a labourers payment for a day is over Rs 300 now.
Abdul Salaam claimed that eight weavers in Thakurdwara tehsil of Moradabad have committed suicide because the yarn supply was stopped and they had no money to feed their families.
"Now several others have taken up odd jobs. Some are driving e-rickshaws, some have turned labourers. They are not skilled at these and every other day we get to hear of them getting injured," he said.
Abdul Salaam, 55, said he is a fourth generation weaver and his children are working hard to continue the legacy.
Mohammad Javed Ansari, the unions chief in Kashipur, Uttarakhand, shared a similar story of weavers giving up their traditional work.
"If the government can help us by procuring our products, that I think can help us a great deal," he told PTI.
Weaving is a traditional craft, which could be lost if attention is not paid to them and help not extended, Javed said, adding that both his parents have been weavers all through their lives.
Asked if wanted his children also to continue in the work, the 38-year-old said, "I am providing them with all formal education but want them to stick to their traditional craft and in future improve the scene for weavers by their skill."
Another weaver said until 15-20 years ago the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Cooperative Association Ltd (UPICA) would procure the products made by the weavers but this doesn't happen anymore.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)