Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Sep 16, 2003
Industry & Economy
Hard times for handloom `kora' silk units
Coimbatore , Sept. 15
WITH hardly 40 days left for Deepavali, the 100 per cent cotton and art silk saree makers here are wondering which way their fortunes will swing this time as the anticipated work orders from wholesalers/master-weavers are yet to flow in.
Worse still, the perceptible slowdown in the demand at the retail market for these exclusive sarees made on handlooms has reflected in the working of loom units which have been made to gulp a cut in the wages offered by the master-weavers.
It is said that major wholesalers and master-weavers who hire regularly the handloom weavers producing the artistic `kora' silk sarees in Sirumughai, Sathyamangalam and Puliampatti areas falling in Coimbatore and Erode districts, have effected a cut in the hire charges paid to weavers. The cut ranging from 30 per cent to as high as 50 per cent effected in the past three months has led to uproar among the job-working handloom weavers in these areas.
The weavers/textile trade sources say the cut in the hire charges has been largely confined to the `kora' silk sarees and certain saree varieties for which the demand recession has been particularly pronounced. Weavers engaged in the 100 per cent cotton sarees in Pollachi/Negamam belt are languishing for want of sufficient work orders from the master-weavers. For them, the cut in the hire charges seems to be not as sharp as it is for their counterparts in the special cotton-art-silk blended saree making.
According to Mr Shanmugham, a major textile trader/master-weaver engaged in `kora'silk saree production and marketing from Puliampatti, Erode, in the 15 years of exposure he has in this particular variety of saree weaving and marketing, the drop in the demand this year has been sharp. He felt that the vigorous inroads made by the powerloom into weaving this special variety of sarees in recent times has partly made the production of `kora'silk-cotton blended sarees from handlooms uneconomical. An estimated 25,000 handlooms are engaged in this particular variety of saree weaving in Sathyamangalam-Puliampatti areas.
As against the hire charges ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 500 per saree (depending upon the pattern and pallu of the saree) given to the handloom weaver, the powerloom weavers who produce the same varieties are given Rs 60-90. The higher productivity realised in powerlooms yields higher number of sarees produced by day and brings down substantially the production cost.
As against the average saree cost of Rs 900-1,000 for the `kora' silk saree made of handloom, the saree produced from powerloom works out to Rs 400-600, though the aesthetic level of these sarees may not compare with that of the handloom sarees. This intrusion of powerloom, according to Mr Shanmugham, is partly responsible for the reduction in the hire charges offered for the handloom weavers.
Mr Shanmugham is also of the view that the falling income generation in the rural market due to failure of monsoon in the last one year has also brought down the demand in semi-urban and rural markets affecting the placement of orders by the wholesalers.
"The anxiety of the wholesalers to reduce the stocks has also led to the master-weavers placing lower production orders with the handloom weavers this time and this has created a situation leading to cut in the wages offered to the weavers," he felt.
In the Negamam/Pollachi blocks, the drop in the placement of orders from the wholesale textile traders has led to concern among the weavers and master-weavers who book the capacity there.
Mr K. Kumar, proprietor of Lakshmi Textiles of Negamam, who regularly supplies to the Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh markets besides catering to the Tamil Nadu market, says the demand for his goods has shrunk this time by about 30 per cent amidst reports from his wholesalers on a slowdown in retailing business.
While the introduction of excise duty on hank yarn used by the handlooms has pushed up the production cost for the handloom sector, the higher productivity achieved in powerlooms has further compressed the working of the handloom weavers. He said that though there has been provision in getting the excise duty paid on cotton yarn reimbursed for the handloom weavers using the duty paid yarn, the cumbersome procedure to get the refund of duty prevented the weavers accessing this route. Most of the handloom weavers opted for direct yarn indenting and do not take the weavers co-operative society route.
According to Mr Ponnuswamy, General Secretary of the CITU-affiliated Coimbatore District Handloom Weavers Union, the plight of the handloom weavers in the district numbering about 40,000 has worsened between 2002 and now, thanks to the fall in the work orders and the consequent cut in the hire charges. "We have been asking the Tamil Nadu government to provide a cash relief of Rs 5,000 and 30 kg of free rice for each handloom weaver's family to ward off the current adverse condition," he said.
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | Home |
Copyright © 2003, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line