Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation (KHDC) is incurring huge losses, and is on the verge of a collapse. The distressed handloom weavers in the state are demanding the handing over of the management of the corporation to the weavers. The weavers have given a call for satyagraha on August 7, 2018. Gram Seva Sangh, a social organisation working towards upholding the “dignity of labour” had called a press conference in Bengaluru on July 28, 2018. The press release of the conference noted, “Lakhs of handloom weavers of Karnataka are distressed. KHDC which gave an employment for more than forty five thousand families is not in the position to take care of any of its employees.”
According to the third handloom census (2009-10),there were 40,488 handlooms in the state that employed 89,256 workers. Social and theatre activist Prasanna pointed at the decline in the number of families employed by the industry. The handloom industries in the state were supposed to be getting funds under Comprehensive Handlooms Development Scheme (CHDS), a component of National Handloom Development Programme (NHDP). This has remained to be mere a promise on papers. The release of funds, both by the central government and the state government, has seen a decline.
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The Economic Survey of Karnataka 2015-2016 noted that Karnataka was the first State in the country to launch State Textile Policy known as ‘Nuthana Javali Neethi 2013-18’. The policy aimed to create Rs. 8000 crore worth investment by 2018, and create employment for nearly four lakh workers. The survey observed that in 2015-16, 38.68 million meters of handloom textiles were produced in Karnataka providing employment to 1.06 lakh, whereas during 2014-15, 41.29 million meters of handloom textiles were produced in Karnataka providing employment to 0.84 lakh persons.
Prasanna and Vittappa Gorantli, the vice president of All Karnataka Handloom Association noted that the focus of the state government is on the investments, and not on the welfare of the weavers. The press note also said that the government is more interested in the salaries of the in-charge officers, but not in the wages of the weavers. Gorantli also appealed to the government to release a special package of Rs 30 crore. Gram Seva Sangh has called for a satyagraha on August 7, 2018 which happens to be National Handlooms Day. A satyagraha will also be held in Dharwad on August 8, and there will be a hunger strike by weavers in Hubballi on August 9.
Finally, the press release noted, “The state government finds itself incapable of running this corporation. We demand that they hand it over to the weavers. The weavers are confident to develop an institution on the lines of Amul, which takes care of crores of cowherds in this country.”
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