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Strike brings half of India’s powerloom sector to a halt

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-08-21 15:00:00 – Mumbai/Bhiwandi

Strike has been called by Bhiwandi powerlooms since Monday demanding control on yarn prices and permission to export cloth . Approximately 9 lakh people are dependent on Bhiwandi’s powerlooms and related businesses of which nearly three-fourths of the 9 lakh powerloom units in Maharashtra’s Bhiwandi are on strike. The strike aims at ensuring less cloth is sent to the market, which may result in prices increasing.

The owners of powerlooms are finding it difficult to run it in profit, because of the rising power tariff, labour charges and dropping prices. The strike has brought half of India’s powerloom sector to a halt.

A production cutback is likely also at the spinning mills region that have been hit by excess capacity and a fall in demand for yarn from export markets, especially China, the Northern India Textile Mills Association has announced.

In Malegaon, mills started operating at 50 per cent of their capacity in May after the Rajasthan government shut down more than 739 textile processing units in Balotra, and Pali to ensure they treat effluent and check water pollution from chemicals impacting farmlands around the region.

The recession of over one and half years has hit them hard, moreover illegal holding of yarn and its ever increasing prices add to their worries. On the other hand, the cloth prices do not rise, said Shoaib Guddu, conveyor of the action committee, which has called for a strike in Bhiwandi’s powerlooms.

According to powerloom owner Zahid Nadvi, the powerloom industry is virtually in the intensive care unit now. Their entire labour force comes from Malegaon itself, and therefore, they are operating the looms for three to four days a week only to support them.

Malegaon’s powerlooms manufacture the grey cloth which is sent to the processing house in Pali and Balotra in Rajathan where it is turned into finished products.

The Centre, State government and processing unit owners have together borne the cost of building the filtering plants, but the work is yet to be complete. The shutdown has impacted the grey cloth prices as they cannot send it to Rajasthan. The supply of yarn from Southern States like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has also been irregular. So, it’s no longer profitable, said Mr. Nadvi, one of the hundreds of powerloom owners who are forced to keep the units running to tide over an impending labour crisis.

Congress MLA from Malegaon Arif Shaikh led a delegation of the powerloom industry to the Maharashtra government and demanded that the State set up textile processing units in Malegaon as a long-term solution to the crisis. They told the government that the State powerloom industry is heavily dependent on the Rajasthan processing units. If they start processing units in Malegaon, it will not only help the industry, but also generate revenue for the State government. They seemed positive, but the crisis here has worsened after Ramzan Eid, Mr. Nadvi said.

Besides demanding restructuring of duties and taxes, the confederation has demanded that the government discontinue the procurement of cotton at minimum support prices and instead give farmers direct subsidy.

The textile associations have sought a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss over the current crisis faced by the textile industry, leaving as many workers jobless and per-day losses of about Rs 150 crore.

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