Weavers in Maheshwar and Chanderi towns in MP are witnessing a gradual decline in their business due to cash crunch triggered by demonetisation.
“Madhya Pradesh, besides its heritage and tourism sites, is famous for weaving art. The entire weaving business has been badly hit by the demonetisation. The cash crunch has led us to fight everyday for food,” said Manohar Lal, a weaver from Chanderi.
Chanderi has preserved the rare craft of weaving for centuries and evolved new forms and designs since the 18th century that saw blossoming of Maheshwari art form inspired by Holkar queen Ahilya Bai. Saris with their outstanding combination of strength and elasticity has found admirers across the world.
“There are around 11,000 weavers in Chanderi and even today, there are so many of them who do not have bank accounts. And even if they have they do not know about e-banking or e-commerce. Some of the labour weavers work on daily wages, they do not have any savings. They are the most affected people,” said Mahavir, a weaver from Chanderi.
‘Due to cask crunch, we are unable to buy raw material’
On being asked about how their business being affected, Manohar Lal said, “All the weavers get raw material from neighboring cities and the entire deals take place in cash.
“Due to cask crunch, we are unable to buy raw material. Also, some of the dealers in big cities have raised prices of raw material. Like ‘taana’, the most essential material for Chanderi saree, is now ₹4,700 a kg. Earlier, it was ₹3,600.”
‘Wedding business is also hit by demonetisation’
Ratnakar Pandey, a dealer, said: “Usually, business of Chanderi and Maheshwari saris is down for four months from May. Wedding season is the best business period for weavers. But this year, wedding business is also hit by demonetisation. Also, people are somehow managing to fulfil their basic needs, why will they spend on this luxurious product.”
Anubhuti Beohar, a fashion designer, has been working with these weavers for many years.
“No matter how much we criticise this move, we have to accept the change. My only advice to the weavers is that they should start collaborating with government aided organisations like Mrignayanee.
“There are regional offices of government aided textile and handloom department in these areas. They can contact in these offices. Also, during winters, Bhopal hosts several handloom and handicrafts festivals. Weavers can participate in them. It is high time they need to look for cashless options now. It is now necessary for them to learn about e-commerce.”