Removal of subsidies for power looms prices and falling demand are the most vexed issues amidst weavers of Varanasi, an electorally critical group from an electoral standpoint, especially for the Samajwadi Party.
The Ansari Muslim neighborhood that relies on craftwork fears suspension of assured power and a flat electrical energy price for operating the looms. The Mulayam Singh Yadav government launched a power subsidy in 2006. Weavers pay approximately Rs 150 per month for looms that devour one horsepower of electrical energy. However, orders in December 2019 made unit-based consumption necessary. This would increase the price gradually to Rs 3000 a month.
"Electricity subsidy is very important for weavers. The subsidy is what sustained us all these years," 60-year Gulzar Ahmed of Varanasi's Lhota weaving colony was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. After protests and several rounds of interplay with the federal government final yr, together with the chief minister, the order was placed on maintenance this February. MSME further chief secretary Navneet Sehgal in a letter to the UP Power Corporation requested it not to gather dues or cease energy provide till the Cabinet took a call on an amended subsidy scheme. However, with no authorities resolution in sight but, weavers typically face harassment from energy division executives.
"Officials from the electricity department visit us 8-10 times a month to trouble us. The lockdown has just got over, and we don't have money to pay bills. We will pay it sooner or later; it is not as if the government will waive it off," stated Mohammad Junaid, a wage incomes weaver of the town's Alaipura weaving colony. Wage incomes weavers work an influence loom for a grasp weaver and receive a commission between Rs 125-150 per day.
'Lack Of Government Order Makes Things Ambiguous'
"Since 2006, due to the flat rate, weavers have been able to progress significantly, but in the last two years, there has been much uncertainty due to the new rule. In our discussions with the government, we agreed that they could increase the rate as it has not been increased over the last 12-13 years but not do away with the subsidy altogether. After the havoc that the Covid-19 second wave wreaked, however, we had to ask it to let us pay according to the 2006 subsidy only. We have been assured that no change in the rate will take place until March 2022, but lack of a government order makes things ambiguous," Haji Iftekhar Ahmed Ansari, president of the UP Bunkar Sabha was quoted as saying in the report which also included that he is assured that the order shall be handed in every week or so, primarily based on his interactions. He additionally stated in many areas like Kanpur, Meerut; weavers weren't charged something.