Anantapur: Pandemic hits handloom weavers hard

Anantapur: Pandemic hits handloom weavers hard
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A woman weaver working on a handloom at Dharmavaram in Anantapur district
Highlights

Majority of people belonging to weaving community are spread in Syndicate nagar, Dharmavaram, Yadiki and Somandepalli mandals in the district.

Anantapur: Majority of people belonging to weaving community are spread in Syndicate nagar, Dharmavaram, Yadiki and Somandepalli mandals in the district. It is the second-largest occupation after agriculture in Anantapur District. It is a common sight to see rural women working on looms at their homes. The ongoing pandemic severely affected the women working in this industry.

Dr M. Suresh Babu, State President, Praja Science Vedika said to The Hans India that the handloom sector in India employs the most number of people after agriculture, close to almost one crore Indians. Among them, around 72 percent of the weavers are women. The contribution of the handloom sector to the Indian economy is as high as Rs 50,000 crore. However, the union budget of 2020 has allocated a mere Rs 485 crore to the handloom sector.

After the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, India has been on lockdown since March 25. As such the local handloom industry has been pushed back. Therefore, the impact of the lockdown will be felt not just on the AP economy, but on the Indian handloom industry as a whole, he said.

The industry witnessed a heavy loss due to demonetisation and the introduction of the GST.

Most of the weavers in the district are currently jobless due to Covid-19 pandemic and have very limited means to sustain themselves during the last two months of national lockdown.

Life has become difficult for those living in rural areas. Among those struggling right now are the many weavers and artisans.

Several handloom weavers in AP had died because of starvation or suicide. This was attributed to the rising cost of raw materials, especially yarn, which had doubled.

M Malathi Latha, CEO of Kalaseema handlooms expressed concern about the future of the weaver community. Organisations are also facing difficulties in collecting finished products from the weavers. They also feel that even if they collect the goods, they may not be able to sell them due to pandemic.

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