There has been a rise in the demand of the printed fabric, as the festival of Diwali is upcoming along with the marriage season. A story about Anupam Mishra needs to be mentioned in order to understand the ongoing situation in Gujarat.
Anupam Mishra- a skilled worker for fabric printing, returned to Surat from Varanasi after a span of almost 5 months. He decided to re-join the same textile he was working at, with the pre-covid labor payments of Rs. 350 per day. In a sooner or later time, he was offered another job at another mill where he would be paid Rs. 500 per day.
It was then realized that there has been a rise in the demand of printed fabric as various festive occasions are coming up. The textile industry in Surat is struggling to regain its lost momentum as nearly 10 lakhs laborers had left the city due to lock-downs. Anupam Mishra, currently employed at Kirtida Silk Mills says that, “I know that there is a major demand for laborers, so it is good to take advantage of the situation and earn more money. In dyeing and printing mills, laborers are not permanent… The (new) company owner will also think that I am supporting them during a critical situation.”
In order to facilitate the return of laborers, the South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry has made a representation to the Union Ministry of Railways to restart train services from Odisha and add more trains from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Jitu Vakhariya, President of the Southern Gujarat Textile Procession Association said that, “At present, around 60 percent of dyeing and printing mills – out of a total of 350 mills in Surat – are running at 50 percent capacity. Some mills are running only day shifts. The major reason is the shortage of workforce. We are also receiving a good amount of orders from southern India. To meet the demand of upcoming festivals and the marriage season, we are paying textile laborers more. We give them salaries every three-four days, so that they can purchase ration and meet other expenses. Some factory owners are also providing ration kits to laborers who have returned only recently. We will also request BJP MPs to intervene and speak to the Union Railways Ministry on our behalf.”
Labor contractor, Kamran Usmani mentioned a few important points and said that few of the labors who returned to their native place are ready to return back but have no means to do so. Kamran Usmani being a labor contractor of 5 mills said that the textile owners in collaboration with him are investing their personal money to bring back the laborers. The cost of around Rs. 1500- Rs. 2500 is being incurred for each laborer to bring them to Surat via luxury buses. He also stated, “During the lock-down, over 450 trains were run free of cost from Surat to UP, Bihar, Odisha, etc. If same the number of trains are run from such states to Surat, laborers will happily return and our labor shortage problems will also be solved.”
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