Hefty duty on raw materials hit traditional weavers in Varanasi

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By Girish Kumar Dubey

Varanasi, Apr 24 : Artisans weaving the traditional sarees in Varanasi, popularly known as Banarasi sarees, find it hard to continue their work.

The increase in duties makes the sarees costly and there are no buyers.

"Earlier, when the prices were right, there was a small amount of profit. But, now due to inflation, there is hardly any income," said Salauddin, an artisan.

The handloom sector is the mainstay of the city's labour-intensive Banarasiaree industry.

Exporters in the business said they were not able to compete in the market as their initial costs were and the high and the government has responded to their requests.

"In other countries, duty on raw materials is less than the duty on the finished products. Whereas in our country there is a ten per cent duty levy on finished cloth and 35 per cent duty on silk. Exporters are paying a heavy price for that. The tax waivers that we enjoyed, were slowly withdrawn," said Arun Aggarwal, an exporter.

The Banarasi sarees that became popular during the Mughal era, is a cottage industry for millions of people around Varanasi.

According to official reports, the Banarsi saree industry has also been adversely affected due to the import of cheap Chinese fabric.

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