Powerloom sector, lifeline of Erode East, in doldrums
COIMBATORE: The powerloom sector remains a driving force behind the largely rural economy of the Erode (East) Assembly constituency. From the overall 12,000 odd powerlooms in the district, a majority are in the constituency, employing around 20,000 workers both directly and indirectly.
Even though they were hit by a range of issues from steep power hike, economic downturn, GST impact, property tax hike and demonetisation, this sector weathered them all to bounce back to survive.
Unfortunately, the final deathblow however came through the long delay by the state government in issuing work orders for production of veshtis and sarees to be distributed free in PDS shops for Pongal festival this year.
Nevertheless, it remains their lifeline for the ailing powerloom sector since 1985, during the MGR rule for the powerlooms in Erode to churn out free sarees and veshtis for distribution in the ration shops. This year though the powerloom units faced a delay by around five months in receiving the government’s work orders. As against the usual month of June, the government gave work orders too late only by November.
“As there was continuous delay, the powerloom owners lost hope and began to sell their powerlooms for scrap. By now, at least 1,000 power looms were sold for scrap in the Erode (East) constituency alone and 3,000 in total across the district. Pitiably, a large chunk of workers have lost their only source of livelihood. Numerous godowns, which were packed with looms, are now empty and ready to be rented out,” said B Kandavel, organising secretary of Tamil Nadu Federation of Power Looms Associations.
Pongal festivity may have gone by a month, but ironically powerloom units are still running round the clock to complete the orders received then to make the veshtis and sarees. “Nearly around 30 per cent of ‘veshtis’ production is yet to get over, while sarees production is completed. This is one of our major issues, which we have raised with the political party leaders coming to seek votes for the bypoll,” he added.
Among the remaining bucket list of demands, the need for a Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) tops as the issue of pollution led to closure of several dyeing units. Hundreds of small scale units were forced to shut down over the years due to pollution and only large units with effluent treatment facilities are functional now.
“Draining of effluents from dyeing units into Cauvery River should be stopped. Besides developing adequate CETP facilities, the government should also implement its long standing proposal to take the treated salt water through pipelines to be discharged into sea in Ramanathapuram,” said VK Rajamanickam, president of Federation of All Trade and Industry Associations of Erode District (FATIA).
A cold storage facility to stock turmeric, more flyovers to ease traffic congestion on city roads, better road and drainage facilities were some of the other issues raised by the people in the constituency.
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