Bhubaneswar: The 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus has severely affected livelihood of many weavers and and artisans of Odisha. Unable to get material to create products these people are not being able to earn money. The lockdown has led to severe financial crunch in their families. They are also unsure as to how long the situation will continue and are living in panic.
Weavers of Kotpad in Koraput district and Gopalpur in Ganjam district are not being able to travel outside their villages due to the lockdown. Hence they are also not being able to buy items like threads of different colours, an important component of the products they weave.
To help these artisans, a project for them has been started by ‘Kala Aur Katha Trust’. It is an endeavour to support artisans living in rural and urban areas affected by the COVID-19 lockdown. The body is collecting donations to support the weavers.
Pankaja Sethi, a fashion designer and founder of the ‘Kala Aur Katha Trust said that more than 70 per cent of weavers’ (the number hovers around the 300-mark) lives have been severely affected by the lockdown to prevent the spread of the pandemic COVID-19.
“We have raised funds for 100 weavers so far and we are trying to raise donations for support of the remaining 200,” said Sethi. “It is sad that our weavers are sitting with idle looms in their homes and artisans are in a difficult situation,” added Sethi.
With each passing day, the panic among the weavers and artisans are increasing, Sethi informed.
It is a known fact that the handloom industry in Odisha is facing crisis since demonetisation and the implementation of GST. Since then many home-based artisans have suffered huge financial losses.
Sethi also said that persons who earn a living through the handloom industry in Gopalpur, Nuapatna and Jagatsingpur have also been hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdown. The weavers of these places who usually designs sarees, dupattas and other similar products have been sitting idle for the last 10-12 days. They had suffered huge losses during super cyclone Fani in May last year and even before they could recover, they have been affected by the lockdown.
Sethi informed that after the cyclone struck last year, most of the weavers were without internet connections for substantial periods leading to decrease in sales. She also informed that the body is planning to appeal to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to bail out the weavers from their current financial crisis.