By Sarada Lahangir
Barpali, (Orissa), Feb. 21 : Orissa's silk manufacturing industry that is known world over for its fine silk and cotton fabrics is facing a major threat to its existence at Barapali Village in the State's Baragarh District.
Baragarh district is one of the major contributors of silk in Orissa. However, the local artisans at its Barapali Village are living a helpless life due to an inadequate supply of raw materials, poor pricing and faulty government policies leading to smuggling of the yarn.
Many of the artisans here fear that the famed Sambalpuri silk saris prepared by Orissa weavers may soon fade into history.
"Our entire money is spent on buying cocoons. We do not get a proper price for our labour. Several weavers have abandoned the profession due to the lack of availability of cocoons. We are facing a lot of problems. We are even unable to educate our children," said Madhusudan Meher, a local Tussar weaver.
The peculiar situation is stated to have developed chiefly due to fund paucity and lack of government support to the local silk industry here.
Silk manufactures seek remedial measures from the State government to check price rise of cocoons and ensure a timely supply of the other raw materials.
Besides, youngsters belonging to the weavers' families are compelled to cling to other professions instead of continuing with their family tradition of silk work.
"These days our children are practicing this profession. But due to the increase in the price of almost everything and a costly lifestyle, the money that we earn is insufficient," said Shiv Prasad Meher, another weaver.
There are over 50,000 weavers involved in Orissa's Tussar Silk industry. Not many may know but the Tussar silk is one of the most exquisite yarns of Orissa.
Villagers, depending solely on silk weaving here for survival, are today finding themselves forced by prevailing circumstances to look for other sources of income. Wide scale smuggling and black marketing have harmed their interests for the past four to five years.
Moreover, decline in forests and restrictions on planting of mulberry trees over the last two years have also adversely affected the silk industry.
Tussar Silk, also known as Kosa Silk, is valued for its purity and texture. It is considered auspicious wear on weddings, religious ceremonies and other important functions.
It is drawn from cocoons grown on special category of trees, the Arjun, Saja and Sal. The silk yarn is available in natural shades of gold-pale, dark, honey, tawny, baccoto beige, creamy, etc.
This original rich gold shade Tussar is dyed with colours of a very special hue and depth.