Hyderabad: The acute power shortage in Andhra Pradesh is hitting the largest worker sectors in the state's coastal region. Balla Agastya is a skilled weaver. His loom and his art have been inherited down generations. Weaving is the livelihood of thousands in coastal Andhra and Rayalseema. Their Gadwal sarees, their Jamdani and Kalamkari work sells across the country. A single bulb for the delicate threadwork and a fan in the simmering heat is all they need. But frequent and long power cuts are eating into their modest earnings.
"For weaving we need light, but with no power for 8 to 10 hours during the day, I take two to three days to weave one saree. We barely make Rs 100 rupees per saree. Even that is now reduced by half," Agastya said.
In rural Andhra Pradesh, weaving is a poor man's job that includes working in the dark and dingy pit looms. Weavers here fear their skill will perish if not given a lifeline.
In tiny looms, with temperatures soaring between 45 to 50 degrees, weavers in coastal Andhra Pradesh sweat it out. quite literally. With power cuts burning a hole in their already small pockets, the weaving community says solar power backed by government support is their only solution to the current power shortage.
73-year-old Ramachander Rao was in tears as he showed his electricity bills that he can't afford to pay. Villagers hope solar power brings some relief. "We have read about solar power in newspapers. We know that it will bring us more hours of electricity. The state government needs to give us full subsidy on it so we can begin to implement and use solar power," Rao said.
The state government unveiled a solar policy in September 2012 to encourage large scale solar power projects, but that is yet to take off. Devender Surana, President, Federation of AP Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FAPCCI), said, "Several interested developers took up solar projects but they have been stuck since there has been no proper communication between discoms, state government and customers." Until the state resolves its power problems, Agastya will continue to struggle for a living.