Monday, Apr 07, 2003
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By K.M. Dayashankar
In the last two years, about 70 distressed weavers committed suicide due to unemployment and starvation. But with the State Government introducing several relief measures for their uplift and also to safeguard the industry, the situation had improved for the weavers. But the Centre's latest move has worsened their plight.
The powerlooms produce about 10 lakh metres of fabric worth Rs. 1 crore every day. But with about 17,000 powerlooms, 200 warping units, 150 dyeing units, 20 sizing units, 20 yarn shops and other affiliated units providing employment to over 20,000 weavers remaining closed since last week, production has come to a standstill.
Weavers, who migrated to neigbouring Bhiwandi and Sholapur in Maharashtra and Surat in Gujarat in search of employment, are also returning as units in those areas too have downed their shutters in protest.
It has become difficult for the weavers to even eat a square meal a day.
The womenfolk of the community are running the family by rolling beedies, with their children helping them.
The secretary of the Sircilla Powerloom Workers Association, S. Mallesham, said the new duty had rendered the weavers jobless and many were on the verge of committing suicide.
The Centre had imposed excise duties on the yarn and cloth produced in the powerlooms, which were recognised as cottage industry.
He reminded that the State Government was providing 50 per cent power subsidy to the looms to encourage the industry.
"Due to drought in the region, we are unable to get any employment and also debts to eke out our livelihood.
If the situation continues, we have no other go except to commit suicide along with the family members," said a powerloom weaver, Ravinder.
Another unemployed weaver, Veeresham, who has been striving hard to run his family by rolling beedies along with his wife, said the family ate only one meal a day. The president of the Sircilla Powerloom Cloth Producers Association, A. Yadagiri, demanded that the Government declare Sircilla a free trade zone to safeguard the interests of the small weavers.
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