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Sharmili Mallick

The National Handloom Day is observed annually on August 7 to honour the handloom weavers and spread awareness on the importance of handloom industry in India.

Lakhs of families in Odisha have been earning their livelihood in handloom sector for generations by producing rich works of arts while upholding the exquisite tradition of the State. From traditional Bandha or Ikat Art to Sambalpuri sarees, the unique handiwork from the State continues to win the hearts of many across the globe.

However, the ongoing Covid pandemic and months of lockdown curbs has brought handloom industry to a critical juncture in Odisha. With markets closed to sell their products, many young weavers in the State have been forced to leave their legacy, jeopardising the traditional art form of the State.

OTV came up with the many such families of Petupali village under Sohela block of Bargarh district where the pandemic crisis has broken the backbone of the traditional weavers.

Geetanjali Meher, a local weaver says, “The demands for garments have come down due to the restrictions on gathering in marriages, funerals and other social functions amid the ongoing pandemic. Therefore, I request the government to cut down the rates of thread, colours and other raw materials and increase the price of finished products which will benefit the weaver community,” she added.

“Due to the pandemic lockdown, markets were closed due to which we were unable to sell our products and suffered losses. The administration should make arrangements so that we can continue our trade in a full-fledged manner," said another weaver, Dileswar Meher.

Reacting on the ground report, Deputy Director of Textiles, Sishir Kumar Nagar told OTV that the Central and State Governments have chalked out many welfare strategies for weavers in Bargarh which will be implemented soon.

“The weavers of Bargarh are being provided with Mudra loan and work shed. The district administration is also imparting them training with supply of weaving accessories like loom and raw materials and solar units,” said Nagar.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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