By Abdul Hai Ansari (ViewsHeadlines)
Nagpur: The poor are facing the brunt of demonetization and ban on Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes here in Nagpur too like everywhere else. Worse is the condition of handloom and power-loom workers in the city.
Owners of small looms are at their wits’ ends as to how they will survive in the absence of cash. Mominpura is mostly inhabited by Muslims, many of whom operate powerlooms manufacturing saris, lungis and rugs. Over a three kilometer stretch there is just a single ATM of Axis Bank that has remained ‘cashless’ ever since the ban on Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes was announced on November 8 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Powerloom owners are finding themselves between the rocks and deep see. They claim while the condition of the powerloom industry was bad even before the demonetization, the present crisis seems to have been back breaking for it. If the problem of cash persists any longer, a number of power looms will be forced to shut shops, rendering thousands of workers and power-loom owners jobless. Many people already don’t have enough to eat and meet their daily expenses.
People have criticized the ban on high value notes and the haphazard manner of its implementation. They claim, while the big business owners are not facing any issue, the brunt is being faced by poor, labors, rickshaw drivers, hawkers and other people working outside the formal job market.
Haji Muhammad Wakil Seth of Ansar Nagar, Mominpura, claims that his business is down by ninety percent since the demonetization. He says he is struggling to keep the powerloom working from his meager savings. He is finding it an uphill task to withdraw his own money from banks. He and his workers have to stand in serpentine queues outside banks to withdraw cash to pay weekly wages of the workers. After wages are paid, he is left with no cash to procure raw material. People have stopped giving new orders and the ones who ordered earlier are not taking delivery as a consequence of notebandi.
Seth says before notebandi, his powerloom used to manufacture more than 200 units of Chattisgarhi and Maharashtrian saris. Now the number is down to even less than 100. He says it costs Rs 630 to make one unit of Chattisgarhi sari and Rs 270 to make a Maharashtrian sari. The labor cost of one sari is Rs 50 and every labor makes as many as four saris a day. He says things are looking so bad that he may be forced to shut down his power-loom if things don’t change drastically in the near future.
Owner of a power-loom making rugs, Salim Warsi, who is also based in the same locality says that notebandi is like a natural disaster. He says the finished rugs are waiting for buyers, but there are none. He adds there is no new order after November 8. Warsi informs this correspondent that 16 workers are employed in his power-loom and somehow he is paying them till now. Nonetheless it may not be done beyond one or two more weeks. He says as there are no new orders and parties are not taking deliveries of old orders, he may be forced to shut down his karkhana permanently.
Abdur Razzaq, an artisan making rugs, says it takes an hour to make a rug and he is paid Rs 24 for making it. He says he earns close to Rs 1500 in a week and goes on to add that he has no ATM card. “Power loom that makes rug is our ATM card. I will be paid only when I have work. I had to struggle a lot to even change the few Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes that we had in our possession. If the powerloom is shut down due to the lack of cash and orders, we will be forced to starve”, says he
Secretary of All Maharashtra Power-loom Makers association Haji Munir Ahmad says there were as many as 15000 power looms in the year 1965, whose number has dwindled to only 3000. He says the notebandi has affected more than fifty percent business. Haji says most of the finished products of lungi, sari and rugs are supplied to tribal areas. It is also supplied in areas including Chattisgarh, Vidarbh and Marathwara. When farmers have no money, how they will buy these products. He says period from November 15 to December 15 was the best time for business. But the notebandi has badly affected the business.
Vice president of Vidarbh Power-loom Association Haji Abdur Rafif Ansari Madani says the entire business seems to have finished. An artisan earning a few thousand rupees a month cannot maintain bank account. “If he has to stand in queues for entire day, how he will work and earn a livelihood for him and his family”, questions Haji.
(Translated from Inquilab)