Adampur’s khadi hub dying a slow death - Hindustan Times
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Adampur’s khadi hub dying a slow death

Hindustan Times | ByPawan Preet, Jalandhar
Oct 02, 2016 03:05 PM IST

Mahatma Gandhi had initiated the Swadeshi (selfsufficiency) movement with an aim to break the monopoly of the British-made costly goods and to encourage the Indians to make and use Indian-made products.

Mahatma Gandhi had initiated the Swadeshi (selfsufficiency) movement with an aim to break the monopoly of the British-made costly goods and to encourage the Indians to make and use Indian-made products.

A view of the Punjab Khadi Mandal(HT Photo)
A view of the Punjab Khadi Mandal(HT Photo)

Promoting ‘Khadi’ (hand-spun cotton clothes) was an integral part of the movement.

However, Khadi (or Khaddar) is now struggling to maintain its identity even in those areas which were once famous and regarded as the hub of the cloth. One among these is the Punjab Khadi Mandal, Adampur, which was once the epicentre of Khadi activities in North India is in doldrums now.

Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi as Punjab Charkha Sangh in 1925, when Swadeshi movement was in full flow, it had provided employment to thousands of people across the region for decades.

The building of Punjab Charkha Sangh that was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1925 at Adampur. (HT Photo)
The building of Punjab Charkha Sangh that was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1925 at Adampur. (HT Photo)

Recollecting the time, Krishna Kumar, chairman of Punjab Khadi Mandal said, “The jeep of Mahatma Gandhi was showered with immense yarn by localities during his visit to the town. Gandhi was so impressed that he established a Charkha Sangh here.”

Spread across eight kanals on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur highway, the Mandal has assets worth `400 crore that are in a state of neglect.

Also, similar independent units are now being run at Kharar, Chandigarh, Panipat, Bhiwani and Nakodar after a decentralisation was done in 1971 for better management.

This place remained the hub of ‘Khaddar’ for a long time and supplied the same to the rest of the country. “There was a time when thousands of households were involved in the business from nearby areas,” an elderly member recalled.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The inception of machine made fabric damaged the market for Khadi as it was cheaper and people started clinging to it in no time.

Subsequently, the funds also reduced to an extent that from 300 permanent workers and thousands of outsourced artists associated with this artisan until 1987, now only 20 are left.

“We have been producing floor and bed carpets besides processing unrefined mustard oil and honey here. Other products used to be imported and available at our exclusive outlets in Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur. Although, these are costly but demanded in urban areas,” Kumar said.

Sulking over government’s apathy, Kumar said that Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and state government were funding them till 1994. But the monetary help had stopped afterward.

He said that government should pump funds or at least allow them to give the unit on lease so that it can be resurrected again as an employment opportunity.

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