The once flouring handloom durrie industry, which made the Nakodar town popular in northern India, is now on its deathbed, as the successive state governments have not cared to nurture and promote it.
The durrie industry is fighting for survival, thanks to stiff competition by the power loom industry that has been set up in gross violations of the provisions of Handlooms (Reservation of Articles of Production) Act 1986.
These durries are made from yarn produced from cotton after the processing and weaving of yarn. At one time, the process of yarn making, dying and weaving was the preserve of traditional handloom weavers who migrated from Sialkot in Pakistan after partition in 1947. However, the lackadaisical attitude of the successive Punjab governments towards this cottage industry has led to large scale marginalisation of the weaver community settled in Nakodar.
The artisans continuing with the occupation are doomed as intermediaries
control the supply of necessary raw materials and finished goods and hence control the handloom sector. Several families, whose subsistence depend on this cottage industry, have been rendered unemployed.
President of the Nakodar Durrie Manufacturers and Workers Association,
Surindar Kumar Dheer alias Billo says, “At one time there were more than1,280 families and about 6,000 workers in the handloom industry but now only 40 families are left.”
At present, the durrie handloom industry is facing severe crisis due to the establishment of power looms. Though durrie and certain handloom items have been prohibited under the Handloom Act 1985, power looms continue to engage in manufacturing durries.
“The association is doing all it can do to save the industry. We had even met the chief minstar and the state industry minster and had demanded action against establishing of the power loom industry, but nothing has been done. Due to the illegal establishment of power loom, our lives are on the verge of collapse,” Billoo says.
Raman Jain, an office bearer of Durrie Manufacturers Association, said that the government should make bulk order to supply durrie to hospitals and army to give some relief to handloom industry.