Hyderabad: Powerloom Industry has been thriving well in Telangana state while the handloom industry has taken a backseat, thanks to TRS government’s ‘Bathukamma Free Sari Distribution Scheme.’
Under the scheme, the state government has been placing an order worth Rs 250 crore to produce 90 lakh saris. These are being distributed to women, during Bathukamma Festival, since 2017. This order is placed with powerloom weavers as they can produce more saris, at a lower cost, quickly. With this, weavers are shifting from handloom to powerloom and vying with each other to set up looms.
In 2017, with no required number of powerlooms in state, the government could place order for only 60 lakh saris with the local weavers and the rest 30 lakh were procured from textile firms in Surat, Gujarat. However, poor quality of saris procured from Surat turned controversial and led to protests with some women burning the saris, soon after distribution, causing embarrassment to the government. This year, the government placed a total order with local weavers. This resulted in sharp increase in setting up power looms in the state with weavers trying to secure more orders from the government.
Weavers, who migrated to Bhiwandi in Maharashtra state, have also returned to their native place following abundant work availability and good wages.
As per the latest survey conducted by the government, there are 17,573 handlooms in state while the number of powerlooms have shot up to 35,588. This indicates that powerlooms are double the number of handlooms. It was also found that powerlooms were confined to four districts earlier but now have spread to 17 districts.
Sircilla constituency, represented by handlooms minister K.T. Rama Rao, has the highest number of powerlooms 25,494.
Handloom weavers can produce only one sari a day and the cost is also higher. While a sari produced on a power loom costs around Rs 222, it costs about Rs 450 if it is a handloom. Besides, powerlooms can produce hundreds of saris every day. “Earlier, weavers were in distress and committed suicides due to lack of work and indebtedness,” Mr Rao said.
But after TRS Government took over and launched Bathukamma Sari Scheme, linking other Central schemes, the income of weavers has more than doubled. They are now working round the year and on an average, each weaver is earning Rs 20,000 per month unlike earlier when it was just Rs 8,000,” Rama Rao said.
He said that this year, the government has placed an order for the production of Bathukamma saris, worth Rs 250 crores, to Sircilla weavers. Nearly 15,000 weavers would get employment directly and another 5,000 would get indirect employment for six months from April to September.
With the State Government providing them regular bulk orders such as school uniforms, KCR kits and Bathukamma sarees, powerloom weavers are tuning in themselves to work for the government and to get good income and meet the requirements of the government accordingly.