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Recession: handloom societies face tough time

Karthik Madhavan

ERODE: Recession has hit hard handloom weavers’ cooperative societies in Chennimalai engaged in deemed exports.

Sources in Chennimalai Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society or Chentex say from one lakh metres a month in 2008-09, the order has come down to about 80,000. The fall, the sources say, is primarily because of the impact of global economic meltdown on exporters in Karur, who place the orders for bed spreads, dining table mats, kitchen sets, etc. “There has been a gradual decrease in orders in the past couple of years, but the fall this year has been rather sharp.”

In 2007-08 the Society wove 12.44 lakh metres of fabric meant for export for Rs. 9.82 crore. In 2008-09 it came down to nearly 11 lakh metres.

Chennimalai Metro Weavers Cooperative Production and Sales Society has a similar story.

“The orders the Society executes has come down to Rs. 3 crore, down by nearly Rs. 4 crore,” sources there say. The reason: recession, again.

Societies like the aforementioned ones in the handloom cluster of Chennimalai are heavily dependent on export orders from Karur for their survival. This is because they get to make a neat profit without having to worry about anything.

Exporters in Karur, who mostly deal in home furnishings, supply yarn and other materials to the societies, whose job is only to weave. And for doing so the societies earn up to 18 per cent, excluding weavers’ wages.

The State Government encouraged such a scheme, which it termed ‘deemed exports’. It said by weaving fabrics meant for exports, the weavers earn more and they get round-the-year work as well.

The Government’s policy note for 2009-10 says 24,357 handlooms in 294 societies are engaged in weaving fabric meant for export. In 2008-09 the societies earned Rs. 291.81 crore and this year’s target is Rs. 325 crore.

Sources in the Government say given the fall in orders, it will be difficult to meet the target. They fear that it may be well below last year’s.

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