The condition of handloom weavers in the country is debilitating owing to several reasons including the introduction of GST and unpaid dues from AP State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society (APCO).
Andhra Pradesh boasts of country’s 80 per cent handlooms, most of which are in East Godavari, Krishna and Kadapa districts.
According to the Central Government, there are 1.40 lakh looms in Andhra Pradesh, but what is noteworthy is that the number of weavers far outweigh the number of looms in the country or the state.
APCO has to release Rs. 12 crore arrears to around 50 Primary Weavers’ Co-operative Societies that are present in East Godavari. Out of the total amount, Rs. 2.40 crore has to go to Addampalli society and Rs. 1.30 crore to Hasanbada society.
APCO blames the Central Government for not having paid the arrears.
Unfortunately, the lack of funds is not the only issue that the weavers are faced with.
Imposition of GST has forced some weavers’ societies to resort to making school uniforms with polyester made out of power looms.
Besides not paying arrears, APCO has stopped buying clothes from them. Meanwhile, the previous State Government told the weavers’ association that polyester stock worth Rs. 250 crore has been pending in godowns.
Donthamsetty Virupaksham, Chairman, State Federation of Weavers’ Cooperative Societies, said APCO’s failure to pay dues to cooperative societies has ruined the weavers. “We want the Centre to revoke GST and make handloom tax-free. People are abandoning handloom as it has become non-profitable. District Cooperative Central Bank came to the rescue of weavers’ societies by giving working capital in the form of cash credit which was sanctioned by Nabard as a part of revolving credit system.” He added that the TDP Government destroyed almost all cooperative societies.