Administrative indifference entangled weavers’ threads & hopes of revival

Rayagada: As many as 13 weaver families from Mayurbhanj district, who had left their age-old traditional work owing to several challenges and were working as daily wage labourer, had sensed a whiff of revival after coming to Rayagada for Dongria handlooms training. However, the sheer apathy of the district administration has made their life more miserable.

A non-government organisation named Mauna Dhwani Foundation, which is working on a project named Tanta Gatha to revive and support the artisans who have abandoned weaving and become daily wage or agricultural labourers, had brought the weavers to Rayagada to give them Dongria handlooms training. For the same purpose, the NGO had approached the Rayagada district administration and got approval for their training at the Dongria Kondha Development Agency (DKDA) at Chatikona area in the district.

Moreover, the NGO had allegedly deposited Rs 72,000 in advance out of the Rs 1.44 lakh demanded by the Rayagada district administration for the training purpose.

Training of the weavers started on June 30 and was supposed to continue till July 13. However, after four days of training they were forced to vacate the DKDA building. Left with no choice, three men and 10 women with their belongings and children left DKDA and walked for 7 kms through difficult terrains till they reached Bissam Cuttack.

“We received training for a few days only. Officials from the collector’s office all of a sudden told us to leave; without food and money we walked with our children,” said a woman weaver.

“If an intellectual like a collector will torture and make people to suffer, who can we believe in,” lamented another weaver.

Even though the administration was paid the asked amount in advance, the weavers were forced to leave without getting any training. Such an act of the district collector has deprived the artisans of a decent living once again, rued a NGO worker.

The Rayagada district administration is yet to comment on the issue.

However, some media reports stated that the NGO had organised the training programme without seeking permission from the local district administration and all the allegations are false and baseless.