Besides undistributed uniform clothes, stock worth ₹10 crore remains to be sold

The handloom industry in Ernakulam district, mostly centred around Chendamangalam in Paravur taluk, is in dire straits, as a large stock waits to be sold. Besides, the distribution of free uniforms to students has been disrupted thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The free uniform distribution programme was the mainstay of the handloom industry, which was seriously hit by the floods in 2018 and 2019 and the pandemic, said T.S. Baby, president, Paravoor Handloom Cooperative 3428. It is a matter of serious concern that uniforms could not be distributed, as schools had remained closed since March 2020.

An official of the Industries Department said the handloom sector had been in serious financial crisis since the 2018 floods. However, it could be revived through measures including those supported by voluntary agencies.

Ajithkumar Gothuruth of Handloom Cooperative H131 at Paravur said the government had been supportive of the societies, but the weavers lost both Onam and Christmas / Ramzan sales owing to the COVID-19 breakout. Onam season accounts for around 40% of sales during the year, and the loss due to the pandemic has had a huge impact on weavers’ income, he added.

Industry sources said around 70 lakh metres of uniform clothes were produced for distribution in the State, but the pandemic disrupted the plans.

Along with uniform clothes, the industry has stock worth around ₹10 crore, said Mr. Baby, who has worked closely with handloom cooperatives in Paravur. He added that those engaged in weaving had received support from the government.

Handloom societies too suffered widespread damage during the 2018 floods. Mr. Baby said yarn worth around ₹35 lakh was lost in the floods, and that no support was forthcoming for the societies despite repeated appeals by weavers.