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Bihu on doorstep, so are imported Bihuwans

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  20 March 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Local weavers suffer due to Fancy Bazar stranglehold on yarn prices

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, March 19: As the Bohag Bihu festivities near, consignments of imported powerloom gamosas from outside the State are set to invade locals markets yet again this year.

Sources said truckloads of such gamosas – mostly from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh – have already reached Dhubri and Golokganj and from there, these are being brought into the State surreptitiously in small numbers.

The trading of imported powerloom gamosas continues to pose a threat to the traditiol handloom-woven Assamese gamosa.

The imported gamosas are priced much lower than the traditiolly made Assamese gamosa which is uniquely designed, multi-use cloth having immense significance in Assamese society. No Bohag Bihu is complete without the Bihuwan, the offering of gamosas as a mark of respect to elders or as a gift of love to near and dear ones.

Official sources said that according to a law under the Union Ministry of Textiles, the Assamese mekhela chador, Bodo dakha, Manipuri mekhela (wrappers) and Assamese gamosa are reserved items exclusively in the handloom sector, and these cannot be manufactured through powerloom.

However, lack of a regulator and monitoring system has led to a flourishing trade of imported gamosas during Bihu festivities in the State.

Officials at the Directorate of Handloom & Textile have put the onus on the Supply department, contending that it is the latter’s duty to oversee the products entering State markets.

The State weavers have already been left in the lurch, having to bear the brunt of rising prices of yarn.

There are two types of yarns – one priced at Rs 240-260 and another priced at Rs 400-460 per kg. “If one goes for superior quality, the yarn may cost Rs 500 per kg,” said an official source.

There is also a conspiracy angle here, with local weavers alleging that some traders in Fancy Bazar of Guwahati with a stranglehold on the yarn market, opportunistically hike yarn prices during the Bihu season to make a fast buck as well as to undermine local weavers and artisans.

Taking into account current prices, only the yarn used for making a single piece of common gamosa costs around Rs 40. Even if the gamosa is bought from the weaver at Rs 80-Rs 100 after including other costs like labour etc, it will then pass through the chain of wholesalers and retailers, with the cost inevitably going beyond Rs 150 when it filly lands in the hands of the customer.

In contrast, the cost of imported gamosas is much lower. “Moreover, it is not easy to differentiate the two. Low prices of the imported towels attract the customer more,” says a trader.

The Assam government had in the past assured steps to stop the trading of powerloom-manufactured gamosas. But the assurance has remained a lip-service so far.

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