Weavers associations have demanded relief from the government for individual weavers who they say have suffered due to reduced demand in the wake of the COVID-19-induced lockdown and a sudden rise in input prices.
The lockdown reduced their business to near zero, due to the restriction on movement of workers and the ban on events such as marriages.
Demand did not pick up after the restrictions were eased to earlier levels.
Now, in 2021, prices of yarn and other raw material have gone up by 50-60 per cent, they say.
In weaving clusters such as Belagavi or Rabakavi Banahatti, around 10 tonnes of yarn is consumed per day. The price of yarn has gone up to ₹600 per kilogram from ₹450 per kg in December 2020.
This makes saris costly and reduces their demand, said Maruti Dhage, leader of the District Weavers Association.
Weavers in Tamil Nadu have gone on a strike on Thursday against this price rise, he said. He accused the Union government of following an anti-weaver export policy.
He demanded that the Union and State governments take steps to rationalise prices.
“Last year, the government said that it will buy around 10 lakh saris directly from weavers. That assurance has not been kept,” complains Sagar Satpute, a young weaver. He said that the State government can buy saris from weavers to create demand and ensure that hard working weavers are benefited. These saris can be distributed among women employees of the government or to ASHAs and anganwadi workers. Saris and children’s uniforms can even be included in the public distribution system,” he said.
Mr. Satpute and other weavers met Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and Textiles Minister Srimanth Patil in June last year. They promised to buy goods from weavers directly. But that promise has not been kept, he said.
Srinivas Talukar, Kannada Rakshana Vedike leader who comes from a family of weavers, said that he will lead an agitation in all weaving blocks if the State government does not take steps to provide relief to weavers.
Ravi Patil, secretary of the district weavers association, said that he will lead a delegation to the Chief Minister to urge him to start a market intervention process that can help weavers.