Tussar silk weavers of erstwhile Adilabad cry for help

Lack of patronage and the Covid pandemic has hit the industry hard and pushed weavers into a debt trap

By   |  Published: 9th Aug 2020  12:13 amUpdated: 9th Aug 2020  12:42 am
A woman weaver weaves Tussar silk in Kushnapalli village in Nennal mandal

Adilabad: Tussar silk, once a much sought after fine fabric coming out of erstwhile Adilabad district, may soon be a thing of the past, at least in Telangana State, with the few handloom weavers producing this silk waging what appears to be a losing battle for survival. The Covid scare has only added to their miseries with hardly any takers in the market for Tussar silk in the past few months.

Produced from the larvae of silkworms and considered as one of the finest fabrics, Tussar silk is mainly produced in Chennur, Nennal, and Vemanapalli mandals of Mancherial district, and Bejjur and Kaghaznagar mandals of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

Tussar silk has a glorious past as one of the largest selling fabric that was also imported to foreign countries. But, the handful of weavers who chose to continue in the profession are unable to find sufficient employment due to decline in orders for the product, particularly with the advent of shopping malls and powerlooms, and subsequently, the lockdown amid the pandemic.

The district, which once boasted of having over 40 handlooms, is now left with just nine weavers trying to eke out a living despite being faced with a financial crisis. The weavers of Kushnapalli particularly brought fame to the fabric producing quality Tussar silk. The tiny village alone used to have around 20 weavers in the past, and now has barely five families continuing in the profession. The weavers are not in a position to repay loans extended by the government because of the drastic drop in orders.

Polasa Mohan, a weaver from Kushnapalli village in Nennal mandal, told ‘Telangana Today’ that they were faced with huge losses, but were still continuing despite the gloomy situation just because of their love for the profession. “We will soon be left with no option but to take up some other job to eke out a living,” he said, a sentiment echoed by fellow weavers.

The weavers say that they were forced to take loans from private money lenders at huge interest rates just for survival since they have not been able to sell their product for the past few months. Seeking waiver of loans, financial assistance and increase in subsidy on purchase of silkworm cocoons, the weavers pointed out that only government intervention can help them come out of the financial mess they were in now.

The weavers use natural dyes as colour for Tussar silk, prepared from the bark of pomegranate trees, Moduga flower (Butea monosperma), red onion, Myrobalan nuts, among others. They do not pollute the environment unlike many other fabrics which contain artificial and hazardous colours.

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