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By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, April 12: Lack of teeth in the Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985 seems to be one of the reasons behind the authorities concerned not being able to protect the interests of the local weavers.
Such a statement was forthcoming from a top-level official of the Assam Handlooms and Textiles Department that, along with other departments, raided a number of shops selling Assamese gamosas being produced through powerlooms, violating the relevant Act.
The department, along with the HRDC, the district administration and the police, today conducted a raid in the Fancy Bazar area and seized 310 powerloom-produced gamosas from different shops and roadside vendors. The raid was led by Deputy Director of Handloom and Textile AN Choudhury.
On the prohibition of production of articles exclusively reserved for handlooms, Choudhury said that an order has been made under section 3 of the Act reserving any article or class of articles for exclusive production by handlooms, such article or class of articles shall not, on and from the date of reservation, be produced by any loom, other than handloom.
When asked by this reporter as to why no stern action is not taken against those involved in the production of gamosas and other articles reserved for handloom, Choudhury said: “The Act lacks teeth. We can only seize articles produced by violating the relevant Act. We can’t make any arrest. However, there is a provision for six-month jail and Rs 5,000 fine for those involved in production of such articles violating the relevant Act.”
Choudhury further said that the aim of today’s raid was to protect the interests of local weavers who have kept the indigenous Assamese gamosas alive in this age of industrialization.
Meanwhile, hundreds of local weavers who have been currently displaying indigenous gamosas and other locally-produced articles at different parts of the city questioned the department’s aim. “Why is this raid only a day before the Rongali Bihu? Gamosas produced by powerloom are sold in the city and elsewhere in the state all throughout the year. Today’s raid is nothing but an eyewash,” they said.
The Act further says that ‘any authorised officer may enter, at all reasoble times, any place or premises of any manufacturer in which any textile articles are stored, kept or exposed for sale and may require the production for inspection of any books of account, registers, records or other documents kept therein and ask for such information relating to the manufacture, storage or keeping for sale of any such articles or to any powerlooms that may be found in such place as he may think fit for the purposes of carrying into effect the provisions of this Act’.