SIVASAGAR, Feb 7 � Muga, or the �golden silk�, has always been the pride of Assam. Over the years, muga silk has become a unique part of Assamese culture and tradition. This Assam�s golden silk has also got recognition in the international arena. Recently, it was declared by skin specialists of the world that dresses made of muga or eri, prevent skin diseases.
But the bad news is that, muga-rearing is in jeopardy in Sivasagar district along with other parts of the state. Certain places of the state that are traditional cradles of �muga� sericulture, have of late been posting poor performances in respect of producing raw silk. According to sources, despite conducive climatic conditions for muga farming, there are only 12 muga farms � one in Sivasagar, one in Dibrugarh, one in Jorhat, one in Kokrajhar, two in Kamrup, two in Lakhimpur, one in Karbi Anglong and three in Haflong.
With its richest tradition of rearing muga, Sivasagar district contributes 22 per cent of the entire muga production in the state. There are 14 gardens of Som trees (food plant of silkworms) in the areas like Barahibari, Changmai Chapori, Maut Chapori, Deodhai, Kachari Pathar, Sapekhati and Daba in the district. According to official sources, there are 13 muga rearing farms and 10 yarning centres in Sivasagar district. As per official data, during 2010-11, the annual eri production in the district was 46,000 kg, muga production was 13,500 kg and paat production was 590 kg.
Although nature has bestowed the district with special thermohygrographic conditions suitable for sericulture, different polluting agents released during the oil-exploration process by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) travel by air and settle on the leaves of the plants on which the �muga� silkworms thrive. Places of the district like Lakwa, Sonari, Geleki, Bokota and Dimual where the golden silk culture is being zealously maintained, have been worst affected by the adverse effects of the oil field hydrocarbons. Rampant use of pesticides in neighbouring tea gardens has also been hampering this rural industry.
According to sources, with a view to reviving the dying muga silk industry in the district, a proposal worth Rs 48 lakh had been submitted by the sericulture department to ONGC under its Corporate Social Responsibilty (CSR) on October 12, 2011. But the authorities of ONGC have not yet responded to the proposal and maintaining silence over the matter.