SUALKUCHI, May 12 - The Sualkuchi silk industry which flourishes without government patronage has suffered huge losses during the ongoing lockdown imposed in the country since March 24 last.
The people of the village, whose principal avenue of livelihood is handloom, have been facing hardship for maintenance of their looms due to closing down of business establishments. All the yarn depots, trade centres, cooperative societies are shut. Production and marketing has been paralysed. It is estimated that out of the total 6300 looms in the village, hardly 200 or 300 looms of rich entrepreneurs are working. The situation has worsened as the people could not sell their finished products which were stocked to reap the harvest during Bohag Bihu. The weavers, master-weavers, small entrepreneurs, small traders, hawkers are short of working capital to maintain the looms. If such atmosphere continues the survival of common people of the village will be a burning problem in the coming off season period from June to August.
Speaking to the correspondent, Harekrishna Biashya, an entrepreneur who supplies raw materials for 60 looms to 25 families investing Rs 30 lakh and purchases the finished product from them at market price, said that his present stock of clothes is worth Rs 25 lakh and if the present diminishing market due to outbreak of coranavirus continues, he will not be able to run those looms from June.
Another skilled master weaver as well as entrepreneur Hiralal Kalita does business with foreign tourists who visit Sualkuchi from October to April every year and he makes healthy profit. But this time no foreign tourists came to Sualkuchi because of the anti-CAA movement in Assam. Moreover due to complete lockdown, Kalita could not sell the products of his loom since March 15 last and has been hit by shortage of capital. He said if the situation continues, production of his handloom factory will be stopped in the last week of this month.
Khanin Moral, Bhrigu Ram Das, Lahkar Das, Dimbeswar Kalita etc., whose only way of livelihood is weaving said that they are facing financial distress because of disruption of marketing and production of clothes since the imposition of the lockdown. Gakul Das, an employee of a cooperative society and also an entrepreneur who is the owner of 4 looms with four hired weavers said he would close his factory next month due to financial problems.
Regarding the nightmarish scenario of Sualkuchi, Sarbananda Kalita, president of Sulakuchi Tat Santha, the lone weavers association afflicted to CITU, said the lockdown has affected 20, 000 people including weavers, reelers, winders, designers, dyers and other helpers who are directly involved in the handloom industry in Sualkuchi and will lose their jobs. To overcome the distress of the weavers and entrepreneurs, special packages from the government end is the need of the hour, he said.