[A textile unit in Malegaon with recently installed modern water-jet powerlooms. (Photo: ummid.com)]
Bhiwandi/Malegaon: Over eight lakh powerlooms in Bhiwandi - the largest textile Centre in India some 50 kms from Mumbai, are shut consecutively for the seventh day on Sunday.
The shutdown, started on August 16 following the market slowdown and to protest exploitation of weavers by yarn and gray cloth merchants, has so far caused an estimated loss of about 3,500 crore rupees to the industry, the local industrialists claimed.
Elsewhere in the state, about 2.5 lakh powerlooms in Malegaon in North Maharashtra are running only 2-3 days in a week since July when the markets opened after a week long Eid break.
"The textile industry is incurring a huge loss due to import/export policy of the union government. The govt has imposed anti-dumping duty on synthetic and man-made fiber yarn. This might be helping a few industrialists. But, it is inflicting a major blow to textiles and related industries", former MLA and member of Powerloom Sangharsh Samiti Rasheed Tahir Momin said while talking to ummid.com.
Rashid Tahir said in the last eight months country's export has declined by about 21%, and the worst affected sector due to this decline is the textiles.
"We have sent memorandum to Prime Minister Modi, Textile Ministers in News Delhi and the state and also to the Textile Commissioner office in Mumbai. But, no one has responded to our pleas despite seven days of closure."
The shutdown followed heavy decline in gray cloth cost and soaring yarn prices. The powerloom owners allege that the reasons behind this is "manipulation" by yarn and gray cloth merchants, and government's unfavorable policies.
“The recession of over one and half years has hit the Bhiwandi textile industry hard…. illegal hoarding of yarn and its ever increasing prices have only added to our worries. On the other hand, the prices of grey cloth remain the same, in fact declined in some qualities,” Shoaib Guddu of the Sangharsh Samiti said.
The shutdown has left hundreds of thousands of labourers jobless. A majority of the labourers who migrated from the states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to Bhiwandi for work have left the city.
"Without any job to feed their kin, more than 50% of labourers have already left the city. This is bound to create labour shortage if powerlooms decide to run again", Faizan Azmi, President of Powerloom Federation said.
The textile industry in Malegaon, another major textile cluster in India, is also facing similar problems. Tired by the prolonged recession, the powerloom units in this North Maharashtra city are running only 2-3 days, that too just to take care of the laborers.
“Like Bhiwandi, powerloom weavers in Malegaon too have almost broken ue to the prolonged slowdown. Our entire labour force comes from Malegaon, and therefore, we are operating the looms for three to four days a week only to support them,” a powerloom weaver from Malegaon said.
The textile industry in Malegaon began facing problems when textile processing units in Rajasthan's Pali and Balotra were axed by the respective pollution control boards in February this year.
Observing that majority of the textile processing units in the two cities are not following the needed norms and running without the necessary effluent treatment plants (ETP), the pollution control board cancelled their permissions.
Meanwhile, Malegaon MLA Shaikh Asif led a delegation to Pali and Balotra, and promising to extend all supports, invited the processing unit owners to Malegaon and setup their units in the city.
Ironically, the crisis hit the two major textile clusters in India at the time when after years of efforts modernisation of the textile industry witnessed rapid pace.
"After efforts of a decade, we were able to install modern and shuttle-less looms in Malegaon. The city which did not have a modern loom, despite years of efforts, today has about hundred looms installed in just three months while project to install about 500 more is already underway", Aleem Faizee, General Secretary of Malegaon Industries and Manufacturers Association (MIMA) told ummid.com.
He also said that installations of In-Setu Powerloom Upgradation kits - aimed at converting the plain looms to semi-automatic, are also underway on war footage.
"When the mood in Malegaon is so favorable for modernisation, the industry is hit by recession. It will damage the modernisation efforts if the situation is not controlled soon", Aleem Faizee said.
According to the Textile Commissioner Office in Mumbai, India has about 23 lakh powerlooms runing at different clusters. Of them, only about 02 lakhs are modern machines, rest all are plain and discarded powerlooms.