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Updated: December 4, 2013 13:04 IST

Black jaggery scarcity forces Kalamkari units to down shutters

T. Appala Naidu
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A woman artisan printing Kalamkari design in black colour in a small unit in Pedana.
A woman artisan printing Kalamkari design in black colour in a small unit in Pedana.

Ban on its transportation continues on the ground that it is being used for preparation of liquor and arrack

Many Kalamkari units in Pedana are running out of black colour to apply on all varieties of products and a few of them are about to down the shutters in coming weeks. Black colour, which is basic colour to print any Kalamkari design on the cloth, is extracted and prepared with black jaggery.

The Andhra Pradesh Government is continuing ban on transportation of the jaggery on the ground that it was being clandestinely used for preparation of liquor and arrack. Now the transportation of black jaggery faces several challenges from the Excise Department and the A.P. State police.

Recently, the police authorities seized three lorry loads of black jaggery near Hanuman Junction, reaffirming how strictly they were implementing the ban.

“At least 12 big units and around 50 units which every month produce Rs.7 lakh worth were running out of the stock of black jaggery since early November. We have failed to manage to buy it now as a network of businessmen stop selling it,” Kalamkari Artisans’ Union member Y.V. Malleswara Rao told The Hindu.

“We are ready to purchase black jaggery at Rs.45/kg, but the complete stock possessed by the local businessmen was sold out by the November first week,” said another artisan N. Ananda Rao.

Absence of the colour would directly drive the artisans and Kalamkari producers to explore new methods, instead of natural colours to promise quality products.

The paradigm shift in the process of the exquisite work has been witnessed, with the transition from applying natural colour to clear dominance of chemical colours in a significant number of units in Pedana.

Excise Department senior officer of Kaikaluru G.S. Bose said aquaculture was one of the sectors that was struggling due to non-availability of black jaggery.

“The aquaculture owners were relying on the available alternative sources, including medicines to grow the sweet water fish, to meet the scarcity of the sugarcane-based production,” he added.

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