Forty-year-old Mohammad Alam is a brassware artisan-turned-rickshaw-puller. Unique? Not really. His story has been repeated many times over during the last two months in this city famous for its brassware.
The lives of artisans, preserving centuries-old art of creating brassware, have turned upside down because of declining orders from the US and Europe.
Alam said, “As my income decreased drastically, I became a rickshaw-puller,” as it is more paying than art. The artisans’ income has fallen from Rs 150 to 200 a day to Rs 50 to 75.
Mohammad Abdullah, who owns a brassware factory since 1990, said his factory’s sale has declined from Rs 2 to 3 lakh this time last year to Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 this year.
Even the global meltdown has left Moradabad’s biggest exporter, CL Gupta Exports Ltd, high and dry. “There is a decline of about 30 per cent in our orders. We have several crore worth of material lying around, as orders were cancelled in the last two-three weeks,” Ajay Gupta, managing director, said.
He said the company, which exported about Rs 75 crore brassware this month last year, has only Rs 55 crore worth of orders this year. There is a decline of 50 to 60 per cent in orders across the board.
As international organisations stated that the downtrend could continue till 2009- end and with no big orders expected for the Christmas season, Gupta said his company might have to cut down further on the labour costs.
There are around 500 export units in Moradabad, which supply to high-end showrooms in the US and Europe. The exported goods worth Rs 2,200 crore last year. Hadi Hasan Ansari, president of Moradabad Brass Manufacturing (Karkhanedar) Association, said the export figure used to be Rs 3,500 crore a few years back, employing about three lakh people.