No subsidy for Bengaluru’s weavers

Chikkanna, aged 40, a traditional handloom weaver from Chowdeshwari Nagar, Kanakapura road has decided to quit weaving after things turned worse due to debt and poverty.

Three years ago when profits from his handloom died down, he took a loan to purchase a powerloom. The loan came at 12 percent interest. But he failed to repay the loan due to high interest, increasing power costs and day to day expenses.

A Handloom weaver from Sarakki. Pic: Sankar C G

Using a powerloom, one can make one or two saree per day. But the cost of one power loom is one lakh rupees, making it unaffordable for most weavers. “We get only Rs 350 per saree and it takes three days to make one saree in Handloom. How can we live with this money?” asks L Gaviranga, a weaver and a local loom association member.

Had he got the subsidy from the state government scheme, there would have been some hope for him. But Bangalore’s weavers are not eligible for subsidy.

In June 2011, the Office of Commissioner of textile development and Director of Handloom and Textile decided to provide one lakh rupees subsidy to the traditional handloom workers in Karnataka to buy powerlooms. The policy was really meant to resurrect the down turning Handloom sector. The policy enabled the weaver to buy two powerlooms. One was subsidised or in this case, free and the other could be bought on loan provided through a bank.

It was a great relief to ten thousand handloom weavers across Bangalore and majority of them applied for subsidy. All they needed to get the subsidy is to prove they have a five years of experience in the field and own a house that has access to power connection but should not possess a power loom.

However even after a year, not one of the Bangalore’s weavers have been able to avail the subsidy. In the meantime handloom weavers from Kolar, Chitradurga, Davangere, Mandya, Mangalore etc have received subsidy for the purchase of powerlooms.

When Citizen Matters spoke to Panner Selvam, Deputy Director of Handloom and textile department Bangalore, he said Bangalore weavers don’t need subsidy. “Bangalore will develop automatically. There is no need for subsidy in Bangalore. This is the order that I have received from higher office (Loom Commissioner), “ he says. Selvam adds that due to budget constraints urban Bangalore weavers are left out of the subsidy plan.

Ten crore rupees had been allocated for Karnataka in 2011 and 2012 for providing subsidy in power loom, of which thirty lakhs was allocated for urban Bangalore. But Bangalore weavers have not received any subsidy so far. When Citizen Matters contacted C Ravikumar, the Deputy Director of Handloom, he said they have diverted the money to Anekal taluk on the grounds of demand.

“The living standard of weavers at Anekal taluk is poor when compared to Bangalore. So we have taken a decision to divert it. But we will consider Urban Bangalore for providing subsidy in powerloom,” said Ravi.

Meanwhile Handloom weavers in Bangalore are leaving for some other unskilled professions. However some of them like Gaviranga hope they don’t have to do this. But cautiously says, “If the current scenario doesn’t change soon, we too might be forced to shift to some other professions.”

About Sankar C G 35 Articles
Sankar C G is an Associate Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters

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