Thanks to innovative initiatives by State government, over 23,000 weavers have returned in last three and half years.
Thirty eight-year-old Vanga Sudarshan from Sircilla spent nearly 20 years amid powerlooms, and around 17 years of his career, in Bhiwandi. He was one of those numerous weavers from Sircilla who went to Bhiwandi, Surat and other textile hubs in search of a livelihood. Despite his longing to return home, he could not dare to as it would put his family in financial jeopardy. But four years ago, he changed his mind and returned home.
“When separate Telangana State seemed inevitable, we had a hope that good days are ahead for weavers in the State. And we don’t regret it,” says Sudarshan who is an expert in yarn warping. Telangana has a strong 1.04 lakh weaver force, including around 82,000 weavers in the cooperative societies fold. The textile sector, especially in Telangana region, was in neglect in undivided Andhra Pradesh, compelling local workforce to migrate to textile hubs like Surat, Bhiwandi and other textile hubs for livelihood.
Weavers from Telangana have been in huge demand in these textile hubs for their craftsmanship.
Soon after the State’s formation, the Telangana government focused on restraining migration of weavers and promoting reverse migration. More than 23,000 weavers are said to have returned home following innovative initiatives by the State government in the last three and half years. At present, there are 16,879 working handlooms and 49,112 powerlooms in the State.
What’s more? The annual income of even local weavers has almost doubled due to proactive government schemes like Bathukamma sarees, bedsheets and other furnishings for hospitals as well as dresses for children studying in welfare hostels. “In powerlooms, weavers are paid based on their work everyday. About four years ago, we had a monthly income of Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000, against Rs 11,000-Rs 13,000 paid in places like Surat and Bhiwandi. But now our monthly wages have increased to Rs 7,000-Rs 9,000 even for private orders. However, our wages hover around Rs 15,000 whenever the government order is placed,” explained Uradi Raju, another weaver who returned to Sircilla from Bhiwandi a couple of years ago. At present, weavers working in Bhiwandi and Surat earn around Rs 17,000 per month.
While powerlooms are powered with work orders from the government, there is a lot left to be done for handlooms in the State. Weavers who rely on handlooms are awaiting subsidised loans to improve their home-run handlooms and are expressing happiness as their monthly income also increased considerably. “With government promising subsidised yarn and loans from banks, we are hoping to increase our capacity as it would mean more work orders and income,” said K Ramachandram who operates a couple of handlooms from his house.
Profits for first time
Mandala Sathyam, general secretary of Sircilla polysters association, said powerloom owners are witnessing profits for first time in a decade due to the State government initiatives especially government work orders. He said that for Bathukamma sarees and other government orders, weavers were working to their might to deliver goods on time and earning better income. The situation is no different in other textile hubs like Pochampally, Siddipet and Warangal where the industry is on the path of recovery. To resolve problems faced by weavers and also improve their socio-economic development, the State government is implementing several initiatives including a huge budgetary allocation of Rs 1,270 crore, introduction of a thrift fund scheme, wage compensation linked input subsidy scheme, setting up a mega Textile Park in Warangal besides another textile park at Siricilla and a Rs 15 crore loan waiver programme. The State government is also pushing upgradation of powerlooms besides ensuring welfare of weavers through implementation of insurance schemes.