Sualkuchi silk industry looks at new generation and their innovations for its survival

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2014-11-25 12:00:00 – Guwahati

Silk village Sualkuchi some 30 km from Guwahati in Assam is a haven for silk fabric. Muga silk and Pat silk along with Eri silk and Endi cloth from this region is famous for its quality. Currently, the beleaguered traditional silk industry of Sualkuchi is now looking on to the new generation of Sualkuchi people and their innovations for its survival.

Several Sualkuchi youths have come forward to help this centuries-old silk industry with their innovations. They include Dipak Bharali (Buta Bocha Machine) Sailen Das (Bobbin Winding Machine) and Sarat Deka (Pirn Winding Machine), among others. These youths are confident that their silk industry would be able to overcome all the hurdles if new but local innovations concerning weaving and designs of fabrics, continue to come at a faster pace.

The Sualkuchi loom owners are also expecting a trademark for all the Sualkuchi products by the early part of next year which is deemed to provide some leeway to the industry.

The budding Sualkuchi Tant Unnayan Samiti had applied for the trademark before the Patent and Trade Mark Bureau in September, 2013. The Samiti was formed after the March-April, 2013 revolt in Sualkuchi against unscrupulous traders dealing in spurious silk items.

Another redeeming feature concerning the Sualkuchi silk industry is that the Silk Mark Organisation of the Central Silk Board has sanctioned a textile laboratory for it and it is expected to be operative within the next two to three months, said Hiralal Kalita, one of the general secretaries of the Sualkuchi Tant Unnayan Samiti.

However, the overall situation in Sualkuchi concerning the raw materials – particularly pat (mulberry silk) – is grim. The State Government has not come forward to provide any relief to the littered Sualkuchi loom owners, who are hit by the phenomenon of frequently effected steep rise in the prices of pat.

Despite the fact that the State has all the favourable conditions to produce mulberry silk yarn on its own to meet the demand.There is no sincere effort to bring done to end their dependence on Bangaluru for supply of pat yarn, claimed loom owners.

There is also no effort on the part of the Government to provide support to this silk industry during the May-August period, which is a dull season for its business.

The pace of the State Government’s move to secure a geographical indication (GI) right from the GI Registry of the country for providing legal protection to Sualkuchi silk industry has also been alleged to be very slow.

It is also alleged by the loom owners that the long-standing demand of the Sualkuchi silk industry to provide 50 percent subsidy on mulberry silk yarn has remained unfulfilled so far.

In this connection, the loom owners pointed to the fact that ace weaver Bancharam Baishya of No 1 Naktadal Chuburi of Sualkuchi, who earned appreciation from APJ Abdul Kalam for weaving the image of the former President of India, had to commit suicide on April 13, 2009 in the face of steep rise in the price of pat. Bancharam Baishya’s 56 handlooms were allegedly hit by this phenomenon.

Nowadays, the rising prices of these indigenous silks have led to some weavers importing cheaper yarns from other places like Mysore and Bhagalpur. This has led to the mixing of these imported ones with the indigenous ones making them more affordable at the cost of quality

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