Andhra Pradesh

Chirala’s handloom weavers are struggling for survival

Weavers showing a sari they weaved at Chirala.

Weavers showing a sari they weaved at Chirala.   | Photo Credit: Kommuri Srinivas

With piled-up unsold stocks, they are unable to make ends meet

B. Shyam Sundar Rao, a Gen-X weaver in Devangapuri near Chirala, has adapted himself to changing times and even began marketing his exquisite handloom products, including saris, online to customers far and near to stay afloat.

Now, he is clueless on eking out a living in the wake of prolonged lockdown imposed to combat coronavirus as Chirala turned out to be a COVID-19 hotspot with unabated new positive cases emerging every day.

So is another weaver D. Kanakaiah, who is unable to get his quota of silk yarn from Bengaluru as there has been no inter-State movement of vehicles since March when lockdown was first imposed and later extended from time to time.

“We are groping in the dark on the way to clear the stocks,” say members of the Indira Cheynetha Abhyudaya Society, who yearn for normalcy to return.

Partial relief

The ₹24,000 provided to them under the YSR Nethanna Nestham Scheme has come as a solace to some 7,000 weavers in and around Chirala, which derives its name from the word Chira (sari).

“Usually four to five weavers work on a loom and all of them have not been covered,” they lament.

The financial assistance is not at all sufficient to address the ‘huge problem of idling stocks on the one hand and lack of access to inputs such as yarn and dyes on the other hand, they say.

“By taking an advance from traders for purchase of inputs, we have been weaving the products. Stocks worth ₹5 lakh each are lying in each weaver’s home for over four months,” explains yet another weaver P. Venkateswarlu, who is clueless on clearing the stocks in the near future as the shopping malls in Chirala and other places have not opened in view of the stringent lockdown.

Seek govt. intervention

“Yet we cannot remain idle. Hoping for better days, we keep producing cheaper varieties of cotton shirts and dress material,” adds J. Srinivasa Rao, who earns less than ₹150 per day as against ₹500 during normal times.

They want the Union and State governments to lift the unsold stocks worth about ₹300 crore with them.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 5:01:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/chiralas-handloom-weavers-are-struggling-for-survival/article31940888.ece

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