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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kosal : Weaver woes loom large

Courtesy:- Times of India

The recent death of seven members of a weaver family in Bargarh district of Kosal region has raised questions about the economic condition of weavers there. The lone surviving member of the family, Uttar Meher, admitted that he had first poisoned and then strangled the seven to death. Abject poverty had apparently pushed them to the brink where suicide was the only option.

The Handloom Census 2009 found that Bargarh had the biggest handloom cluster in the state with 35,000 weavers and allied textile workers and 12,500 looms. But that did not mean that all the weavers were a flourishing lot. A reality check revealed that the majority of them are daily wage earners. Some are members of cooperatives and a few operate on their own. The majority who work for master weavers, get paid on the basis of the volume and quality of work.

Even the most skilled weaver earns around Rs 100 per day, which is what an unskilled labourer in the state earns. "If the whole family puts in around eight hours a day, we can earn Rs 200," said Kamalakanta Meher, a resident of Para village in Bijepur block.

The story is no different for others. Those who work on their own face problems in marketing and putting up with the cost of raw materials. "The cotton yarn cost has been increasing. One peni (bundle), which was available for Rs 25 to Rs 30 three months back now costs Rs 45," said another weaver from Jhilminda village in Attabira block.

The Bargarh handloom cluster is spread over Bargarh, Barpali, Bheden, Bhatli, Attabira, Bijepur, Padampur and Sohela blocks. The weavers here specialize in tie-dye cotton sarees, lungis and napkins. The tie-and-dye sarees have a huge demand. The late Indira Gandhi would be seen flaunting the colourful weave at important functions. In later years, Sonia Gandhi kept alive the Sambalpuri tradition in the Gandhi household.

"The annual sale at the weekly Balijuri market, 8 km from Bargarh, is between Rs 60 crore and Rs 70 crore," said assistant director of textiles Debjit Nandi.

But the high demand doesn't necessarily translate into profit for weavers. Middlemen and master weavers pocket the bulk of the money. "Master weavers, who market the product, pocket the lion's share. Those who really sweat and toil don't get their due. That's why very few youths are willing to take up the family tradition," said Tulsi Ballabh Das, a researcher.

But master weavers maintained that weaving needs skill and the remuneration depends on skill and hard work. "A skilled artisan can earn up to Rs 15,000 per month," said Sanjay Meher, a master weaver from Hillipali village in Attabira block.

Meher employs 70 weavers. He said that about 100 master weavers have come forward to form a handloom park near Barpali with government help. "Once it gets functional, it would help weavers improve their skills and earn more," he said.

Cooperatives blamed the high cost of cotton yarn for the sorry state of the handloom industry. "Cotton prices have increased manifold in the past one year. This has shrunk the profit margin of weavers," said Sambit Acharya, president of Sambalpuri Bastralaya, the largest primary handloom cooperative society in the country with over 6,000 weavers.

But the government has brushed aside the family suicide as a one-off case. "The suicide can't be linked to the state of the handloom industry. There seems to be personal reasons behind the act," said handloom and textile minister Anjali Behera, adding that the government has initiated a number of steps for weavers.

She said the Union and state governments contribute towards health and life insurance of weavers. Besides, the government also helps them in building houses with a provision of Rs 35,000. There's a 90 per cent support also for BPLs for building looms.

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Welcome to KOSAL


"Aamar Sanskruti Aamar Gaurav"

Welcome to the land of culture "Koshal" . Koshal is the land of great warriors. The land of Maharaja's.The land of Maa Samalei, World famous sambalpuri saree , great teracotta works, land of tantrik Vidya, world famous Sambalpuri music and dance.

Koshal consists of ten beautiful districts..
and Deogarh.

The motto of this community is to bring all the young warriors of koshal to a common platform from where they can initiate the process to preserve the great Koshali culture and swear to free our motherland koshal from atrocities..

So friends lets join hand and do something extraordinary to create a separate identity of us across the globe and create a separate koshal state,full of prosperity and impartiality.

We Consider Kosali language as the mother of Oriya language, the origin of kosali language was found by the historians from Subarnapur in Stambheswari inscription of 12th century A.D. The Kosali language is spoken by about 2 crores of people in the entire KBK belt and Western Orissa and part of A.P., M.P., Chhatisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It is a matter of regret that the Government of Orissa has not taken any interest to improve the standard of Kosali (Sambalpuri) language.


So start sharing your views on Koshal.....