Kanchipuram: For the weavers of Kanchipuram, the darkness has now become a part of their daily life. With a massive six-eight hour power cut everyday, business in the silk capital of India is taking a massive hit. And due to decline in production, the weavers are now forced to move to other lucrative professions.
With most weaving units set up within their own houses the weavers are forced to depend on either sunlight or other small lights to do their job. For weavers like 48-year-old Venkatesan, there's little choice. He's been weaving for more than 30 years and knows no other work. "Before this electricity problem, we were weaving around three-four heavy sarees a month and would get Rs 4000 per saree but now we are not able to weave even two full sarees," he says.
Kanchipuram is home to more than 40000 weavers and the weaving industry is said to have suffered a production loss of as high as 60 per cent thanks to the acute power crisis. This year alone, the cooperative societies have suffered a Rs 30 crore production loss.
E Muthukumar, the General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Handloom Weavers Federation Workers Union, says, "Ten years ago, we were earning around Rs 80 crore in Cooperatives Society and it even increased to around Rs 110 crore but now it has been reduced to just Rs 40 crore. Several of our weavers have moved over to other professions."
For a state that's suffering a 4000 MW deficit, it appears that the power outages are likely to continue for a long time to come. And despite several assurances from Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, there has been little improvement on the ground.
For the weavers of Kanchipuram, the power crisis is a curse that's affecting both their lives and their livelihood. And they fear that if the power situation doesn't improve, they would be forced to move over to other occupations and the silk city may have to lose its title soon.