GUWAHATI, May 9 - The Paschim Boragaon-based Institute of Advanced Studies in Science and Technology (IASST) in Guwahati has developed a computer-aided image processing technique to identify handloom products in a bid to protect the interests of indigenous handloom weavers of Assam.
The indigenous handloom weavers of Assam are facing serious threat to their existence from the intrusion of power loom products from outside the State in huge quantities.
IASST Director (Additional Charge) Dr H Bailung told this correspondent that they are at present working on improving this technique, alongside the digitization of the floral patterns of the State�s indigenous handloom products.
This digitization of the floral patterns is part of the computer-aided image processing technique developed for identifying handloom products of Assam, Dr Bailung said, adding that the digitization is expected to be completed within one year�s time.
Dr Lipi Banerjee Mahanta, associate professor of the IASST�s Computational and Numerical Studies, is leading the endeavour to develop and improve the computer-aided image processing technique and the process to digitize the floral patterns, Dr Bailung said.
The IASST contacted the State�s Directorate of Handloom and Textiles in a bid to extend support in identifying the handloom-woven gamosas during Rongali Bihu this time. This was so planned because during Rongali Bihu, gamosas produced in power looms in different locations outside Assam flood the State�s markets, imperiling the indigenous handloom weavers.
But because of the coronavirus-related lockdown, the IASST process could not be applied in the markets this time. However, this process would be applied in the markets in the days to come to protect the interest of the indigenous weavers, said Dr Bailung.
The Indian handloom census, conducted in 2019-2020, stated that Assam has around 10.9 lakh weaver families � the highest in the country. Under the provisions of The Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985, handloom products of the State, like mekhela chador, gamosa, phanek-dakhona, danka, khamlet, etc., are reserved.
But cheaper versions of these items produced in power looms outside the State are imported by unscrupulous traders and flood the State�s markets in such a manner that indigenous handloom weavers find it very difficult to sell their genuine products.
While common people opt for power loom products for their cheaper prices, the common traders are also lured by these power loom products that have good profit margins.
Official sources said the State�s Handloom and Textiles Directorate conducts raids and seizes all such power loom products. But the Directorate has to free all the seized items to the retailers or wholesellers in the long run due to its failure to support its complaint with a valid laboratory certificate.
Elaborating, the sources said that to file the first information report (FIRs) with police, the Directorate needs supporting certificates from authorised laboratories that the seized items are not handwoven products. Since there is no authorised laboratory in Assam for the purpose, the Directorate has to send samples of the seized items to an authorised laboratory in Kolkata. But on most occasions, this laboratory either delays in sending its test reports or says that it cannot determine whether the samples are handwoven or not. Faced with such a quagmire, the Directorate has been pleading for authorising both the Assam Textile Institute and the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology laboratories located in Guwahati for certification of genuine handloom products of the State.