GUWAHATI, Aug 24 - The State government is very likely to suggest some more Assam handloom items, like eri chadar, riha, costumes and cloths produced by the weavers of the State's ethnic groups in their handlooms, to be covered by the Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985. The Union Ministry of Textiles has initiated the process for amending this legislation, which came into force on March 31, 1986.
The Union Ministry has, meanwhile, asked the State government and NE Regional Office of the Development Commissioner (Handloom) of the Union Ministry of Textiles to send their suggestions for the purpose of including new items in the list of reserved categories of handloom products. The Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985, by including the handloom items in the reserved categories, provides protection to such items produced by the indigenous weavers of the States against the intrusions of the power loom sector.
There are 11 categories of handloom-woven articles covered so far by this legislation. There are five items, under two different categories, from Assam. The two categories of Assam items covered by this legislation include Gamocha and Mekhela-chadar. Dakhona, Danka and Phanek of the State are covered under the Mekhela-chadar category.
Sources in the Directorate of Handloom and Textiles maintained that a request to set up an authorised laboratory for identifying the State's protected handloom products and their imitation - a longstanding demand of the State - may also be placed before the Union textile ministry. The sources, however, maintained that identifying the State's authentic handloom products is not that difficult, but there is the problem of certification, which can be done only by an authorized laboratory.
As of now, certification is done after the items are tested at the Union Textile Ministry's Regional Office of the Textiles Committee at Salt Lake, Kolkata. There is also a demand to authorize the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology to conduct the tests till the State gets its own laboratory.