The famous chikankari and zardozi business in Lucknow has taken a beating following demonetisation, weavers have complained.
The usually over-crowded markets like Ameenabad and Chowk are witnessing much less footfall for the past one and a half month.
Ameenabad and Chowk are the hub of chikan clothes while Hazratganj has many grand showrooms. Zardozi workers are mainly found in the area between Akbari gate and Gol darwaja in the walled city.
While chikankari is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow believed to have been introduced by Noor Jahan, the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir, weavers use gold and silver threads in zardozi work.
Lucknow zardozi products are manufactured in areas in Lucknow and six surrounding districts of Barabanki, Unnao, Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Hardoi and Amethi.
BK Rastogi, owner of the over six-decades-old Bhagwat and Sons shop at Chowk area, says sales had dropped by 40% due to demonetisation.
“Seventy percent of contract workers are struggling and there are difficulties in circulation. The worst affected are kaarigars (weavers) who are not getting enough work. We supply to cities like Mumbai and Delhi but there is around 40% drop in sales,” Rastogi said.
“The process of chikankari includes designing, engraving, block printing, embroidery, washing and finishing and for every step we hire kaarigars who are paid in cash. It is difficult for businessmen as there is a withdrawal limit post demonetisation. We can’t pay them through Paytm or cards,” he added.
Zafar Ali, who has been handling his ancestral zardozi business at Shahi Shafakhana Chowk, said the note ban had made their lives very difficult.
“There are 12-13 kaarigars working on daily wages here. We purchase raw material in cash and it is difficult now due to lack of cash. Normally, we get orders from big showrooms but there are not enough orders these days. Forget about profit, it is getting harder even to retrieve the cost,” he said.