Punjab's carpet industry facing decline

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Amritsar/Taran Taran, March 14 (ANI): Punjab's border belt, a region adjacent to Pakistan, has been well-known for its handmade woolen carpets and rugs for many decades.

However, this once flourishing carpet industry is today on the verge of collapse. A steadily declining income and below expectation support from the government has affected the enthusiasm of local craftsmen here.

The hefty Central Government levies has ledt to a number of factories closing down; leaving hundreds of craftsmen jobless in Amritsar and in Tarn Taran district.

Interestingly, this carpet industry has traditionally been dominated by men, and in a bid to add to their family income, a number of women have also joined the trade.

Puran Singh and his family have been weaving carpets for generations. But today, they have buckled under a huge financial burden.

"I have not progressed ever since I started this work. Over the years my children have joined the business and even after making them join us in the work, we aren't benefiting. We want our wages to increase and the government should also think about us and give us some money so that we have more work," said Puran Singh.

Joginder Singh, who has been running a carpet manufacturing company for 40 years, says that he has witnessed a big change in the industry due to the government's decision to increase taxes.

"There is a big difference in the position we are in today, compared to we were in previously. Production was much higher than it is today and there were eight exporters in total. Today, sales are falling and there is a shortage o skilled labour. The main difference is that back then, inflation was fairly low and people wanted to work. In today's time of inflation, even the exporters are not able to make ends meet so exporters are leaving the business and the skilled labourers are doing the same. The industry is in a downfall. The government has placed so many taxes on us and all our profits are eaten up by the taxes," said Joginder Singh.

Textiles make up 41 percent of Punjab's exports and are the State's biggest source of revenue, earning up to 40 billion rupees (880 million dollars) a year. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)

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