Surat has been a major supplier of the traditional Mekhela Sador and Gamusa to Assam for quite some time, supplying more than 60% of the total consumption in the North Eastern state. However, the Assam government announcing a ban on the sale of the power loom-produced attire as well as Gamusa, just ahead of the Rongali Bihu season, has rattled the industry, which is now knocking the doors of the Union government for a resolution.
Speaking to ET from Surat, the general secretary of the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTA), Champalal Bothra, said the sudden ban on the sale of power loom-produced Mekhela Sador and Gamusa has jeopardised the livelihood of a few thousands of people apart from causing severe financial losses.
“This decision, on one hand, will impact around 700 to 800 traders and 300 to 400 weavers along with the labourers associated with the looms producing Mekhala Sador in Surat that has a turnover of around Rs 3,000 crore annually,” Bothra said adding that many of the traders in Assam who had stocked the already produced goods are now looking at returning the same.
“So, it is a double-whammy for us. On one hand, the payment is stuck and, on the other, the material is likely to be returned,” he said, adding that while a handloom-produced Mekhela Sador would cost anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 10,000, the power loom-produced attire costs as low as Rs 600.
“We have met Darshana Jardosh, MoS Textiles and she has heard us out,” Bothra said. “But there has been no clear resolution of our concerns so far,” he added.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Parthiv Gohil said the sudden decision of the Assam government spells a graver danger for the power loom industry in Surat. “If it is Assam today, who is stopping West Bengal, Tamil Nadu or any other state to initiate similar steps tomorrow? In the process, the power loom industry in Surat will be left to bear the brunt of such protective measures that would only dent the interstate amiable relations,” he said.