Majority of powerlooms in Bhiwandi go on strike

Industry seeks control on yarn prices, permission to export cloth

August 21, 2015 02:01 am | Updated March 29, 2016 04:27 pm IST - New Delhi/Mumbai:

An employee operates a powerloom in Bhiwandi, an industrial suburb of Mumbai. These looms want a check on yarn prices and permissionto export cloth.

An employee operates a powerloom in Bhiwandi, an industrial suburb of Mumbai. These looms want a check on yarn prices and permissionto export cloth.

Nearly three-fourths of the 9 lakh powerloom units in Maharashtra’s Bhiwandi have been on strike since Monday, leaving as many workers jobless and per-day losses of about Rs 150 crore, estimate textile industry associations. The strike has brought half of India’s powerloom sector to a halt, they say, since it comes over and above the production cutbacks in place since May at over 2.5 lakh units in Malegaon.

A production cutback is likely also at the spinning mills region that have been hit by excess capacity and a fall in demand for yarn from export markets, especially China, the Northern India Textile Mills Association has announced.

The striking powerlooms in Bhiwandi are demanding control on yarn prices and permission to export cloth. In Malegaon, mills started operating at 50 per cent of their capacity in May after the Rajasthan government shut down more than 739 textile processing units in Balotra, and Pali to ensure they treat effluent and check water pollution from chemicals impacting farmlands around the region.


“The recession of over one and half years has hit us hard…. illegal holding of yarn and its ever increasing prices add to our worries. On the other hand, the cloth prices do not rise,” Shoaib Guddu, conveyor of the action committee, which has called for a strike in Bhiwandi’s powerlooms, told The Hindu .

According to the samithi members, the owners of powerlooms are finding it difficult to run it in profit, because of the rising power tariff, labour charges and dropping prices. Approximately 9 lakh people are dependent on Bhiwandi’s powerlooms and related businesses. The strike aims at ensuring less cloth is sent to the market, which may result in prices increasing.

“You can say the powerloom industry is virtually in the intensive care unit now. Our entire labour force comes from Malegaon itself, and therefore, we are operating the looms for three to four days a week only to support them,” a powerloom owner Zahid Nadvi told The Hindu from Malegaon.

Malegaon’s powerlooms manufacture the grey cloth which is sent to the processing house in Pali and Balotra in Rajathan where it is turned into finished products.

“The Centre, State government and processing unit owners have together borne the cost of building the filtering plants, but the work is yet to be complete. The shutdown has impacted the grey cloth prices as we cannot send it to Rajasthan. The supply of yarn from Southern States like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has also been irregular. So, it’s no longer profitable,” said Mr. Nadvi, one of the hundreds of powerloom owners who are forced to keep the units running to tide over an impending labour crisis.

Congress MLA from Malegaon Arif Shaikh led a delegation of the powerloom industry to the Maharashtra government and demanded that the State set up textile processing units in Malegaon as a long-term solution to the crisis. “We told the government that the State powerloom industry is heavily dependent on the Rajasthan processing units. If they start processing units in Malegaon, it will not only help the industry, but also generate revenue for the State government. They seemed positive, but the crisis here has worsened after Ramzan Eid,” Mr. Nadvi said.

In connection with the crisis, the textile associations have sought a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Besides demanding restructuring of duties and taxes, the confederation has demanded that the government discontinue the procurement of cotton at minimum support prices and instead give farmers direct subsidy.

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