Erode:Â The world-famous Erode jamakkalams have lost their sheen and the handloom weavers are in dire straits. About Rs 4 crore worth jamakkalams (thick floor linens)Â and blankets are lying unsold at the weaversâ cooperatives in Bhavani.
For nearly a century, the handloom weavers of Bhavani in Erode district were making jamakkalam and bed linens and despatching them across the world.
Every winter, when the mercury dipped in North India, Bhavani bedsheets used offer them a blanket of comfort. But now power loom bedsheets from Sholapur in North India has brought down the demand for the Erode jamakkalams.
The looms in Bhavani are silent as about Rs 2 crore worth âjamakkalamsâ remain unsold. lament weavers.
âThere was a time when 10,000 handloom weavers ruled the âjamakkalamâ business, but now there are barely 5,000 weavers.Â
Though jamakkalams should be handloom made, some are also using power loom in Erode, which is not good for the business,â M. Arivalagan, executive committee member of Jamakkalam Weavers Association, told DC.
The handloom weavers say that the quality of power loom made jamakkalams are inferior and they do not last more than one-and-a-half year.
But handloom jamakkalams last for about 10 to 15 years. But in Sholapur, the âjamakkalamsâ are made in power looms and hence, they are able to produce faster and at lesser cost.
While the Sholapur jamakkalams are priced at just Rs 125 per piece, the hand-woven Bhavani jamakkalams are available only for about Rs 250.
Weavers say the government should offer concessions to save the dying business.
The state government is giving 30 percent subsidy for the Co-optex to offer discounts to the customers till January end, but it should be extended throughout the year to clear the piled up stocks, say weavers.
The Chennimalai blankets too have lost their demand and stocks are piling up in the godowns. âWe do not have business for even two months in a year,â lamented T. Easwaramoorthy, secretary of Chennimalai Powerloom Owners Association.
There are just about 1,000 handloom weavers, and only 50 per cent of them are active in Chennimalai.
For they get measly wage of Rs 100 per day.Â Also, the blankets made in China and Bangladesh too are capturing the market threatening the local business.
Besides, blankets made in Sholapur are also affecting the business. âWe are not able to produce large quantities in powerloom, due to the reservations in the Handloom Act. The government should bring in relaxation, to save the business,â said Easwaramoorthy.
He also said that the government should give funds to set up zero-effluent treatment plants to help the powerloom weavers and also provide subsidy in power up to 2,000 units.
Sales dip at Erode shandy
Erode:Â Every Tuesday,Â buyers from North India would flock the weekly shandy at Erode to pick up bed linens and blankets.
However, this year, many of the textile shops at the shandy have shut as Erode jamakkalams, blankets and linens have fewer takers.
âA few years ago, there were around 1,000 textile shops at the famous Gani Market; however it has come down to just 750 shops now.
Of them only 200 shops sell bed sheets and floor linens,â said K. Selvaraj, president of Textile Traders Association at the weekly Gani Market.
â Earlier, North Indian buyers used to come in large numbers to buy the bed sheets and floor linens from here.
However, weavers in north India have started to produce them at a very competitive price,â he said.
As of now, just about Rs 50 to 60 lakh worth jamakkalams, bed linens are sold.
The textile traders have sought the intervention of the government in finding a solution to the problem.
The Erode District Handloom Department Enforcement assistant director K. Parameshwaran said that some weavers make the bed sheets in power loom instead of the mandatory handloom method.Â
âWe have booked 14 such cases in the district and special teams are on the lookout to curb such violations,â he said.