After the reduction from 15 percent to 10 percent on Chinese raw silk, announced in the 2015-16 Budget, the Karnataka state having witnessed steep decline in prices in the raw silk and cocoon markets, which would throw the local manufacture of raw silk out of business has urged the Centre to increase customs duty to 30 percent or at least restore it to 15 percent.
Karnataka has already sent a letter from chief minister Siddaramaiah, while an all-party delegation led by Karnatakaâ€™s power minister DK Shivakumar to Delhi called on finance minister Arun Jaitley, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman and textiles minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar recently, to highlight the state's concerns on the reduction in import duty on cheap Chinese raw silk.
DK Shivakumar said Jaitley himself had told them that Varanasi and Karnataka are facing a similar problem due to China silk. Despite assurances from all the ministers that the import duty cut will not be implemented, the Centre has gone ahead and done it. This has forced Karnataka sericulturists to stage dharnas and rasta rokos, in an effort to save their livelihood.
Karnataka is also using its silk connection with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi, in an effort to help its sericulture farmers. Karnataka is hoping that Modi will listen to the need of his constituents and intervene to help the Karnataka sericulturists.
For this, the government plans to point to the plight of about six lakh weavers in the PM's constituency of Varanasi, who use raw Mysuru silk -called Bengaluru silk there -to weave the famous Benaras handloom silk saree.
A non-governmental organisation in Varanasi, the State Alliance for Rights, Empowerment and Livelihood (SAREL), which facilitated the GI tag for the Benaras silk saree, is also fighting the battle against Chinese raw silk and fabric flooding their market.
The Benaras silk saree and the Mysuru raw silk are heritage products of India and have got international recognition and repute.
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