Darkness For Weavers

Considered as the capital of handloom, Bhachi in the Madhubani district saw a sudden ray of light in the house of the powerless and forlorn Md. Ekhlaque Ansari after 8 months. The Government Departments gathered together. It was time for the Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar to come. Actually on 16 January, during the Seva Yatra of the Chief Minister, he visited Ekhlaque’s house and tried to apprise himself about the condition of weavers. He also visited the houses of 5 other weavers including Md. Musa Ansari, Md. Nizam Ansari, Md. Isa Ansari, Vakil Ansari and Moin Ansari and closely understood the misery faced by them. After this, there was a lot of debate during the general body meeting of the local Madrasa, Falahul Muslemin Bhouwara. Standing on the lower steps of the society, the very poor Muslim weavers found a ray of hope. Almost 8 months will soon be over, but the announcements are still dumped inside the files. All the people of this slum have started to raise questions on the ignorance of the officials related to the announcements. Are the officials of the Government unaware of the issue or would the weavers remain cheated as usual ? It  should be known that the district famous for its handloom work has a huge weaver population.
If we believe the statistics quoted by the Chairman, Enamur Rahman Ansari of the Madhubani Regional Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Limited, then there are 388 weaver cooperative societies in the district, to which 90 thousand families are attached. In direct or indirect terms, this work provides food and clothing to approximately 4 lakh families. But due to their poverty and illiteracy, the skills and passion of this class of people were being misused for political benefits. The weavers were being exploited by industrialists and brokers. They were only being utilised in the form of vote banks. That is why the economy of this cottage industry in the region suffered rapid loss and today’s situation suggests that the weaver families who were always busy making clothes for people are in dire straits themselves.

In direct or indirect terms, weaving provides food and clothing to approximately 4 lakh families. But due to their poverty and illiteracy, the skills and passion of this class of people were being misused for political benefits. The weavers were being exploited by industrialists and brokers. They were only being utilised in the form of vote banks. That is why the economy of this cottage industry in the Madhubani region suffered rapid loss and today’s situation suggests that the weaver families who were always busy making clothes for people are in dire straits themselves.

The amount allocated for different schemes made to improve their situation were distributed unevenly. An amount of Rs. 93 lakhs of the Weavers Cooperative Society has been swallowed. The report of the auditor has been put in the dustbin by the concerned Department. The development schemes introduced by the weavers cluster have remained closed in files. The  IL&FS,  a Project Management Agency (PMA), had been given the responsibility of a scheme and the progress of the work is under due investigation. The Managing Director of the Department of Industries, Kirti Narayan Giri, has said that he has ordered the IL&FS to submit their reports.  On the other side, the initiative for the rejuvenation of the society got ignited when voices were raised by Arun Shankar Prasad, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Ramdev Mahato and others politicians, but nothing has happened till date. The benefits of the schemes announced by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) could not be utilised by the weavers because of the carelessness of the officials. After having a good look at the situation, the Chief Minister has assured drastic changes with regards to the situation, in which the most important aspect was that of participation and partnership.
There was talk that the responsibility of the selection and implementation of schemes should be given into the hands of the weavers themselves. But even after 8 months, no noticeable change can be seen. Threats from officials are common. In the name of elections for the Weavers’ Cooperative Society, looting is prevalent in the Cooperative Department. Making members according to their will has become a game for them. Inspite of this, the Cooperative head, Santosh Jha has strongly stated that the work is being done with a lot of transparency. The issue of the weaver credit card and health insurance schemes is stuck in the grips of the ‘mediator’. Various Gramodyog Societies in the name of providing houses and workshops for the weavers have swallowed more than 4 crores and an investigation of this case is demanded. Cotton Gramodyog Society is also among one of these organisations. Formalities are conducted in the name of investigation in the scam of health insurance. On the other hand, the middlemen by fake means are making registrations of various organisations and looting from the different schemes being run by these organisations. Providing available cotton to sale of clothes, all these operations are under the control of these middlemen. Cotton worth Rs. 800 is sold at Rs. 1300. The situation is such that the price of the materials is also fixed by the middlemen. The most important fact is that the Government schemes are also given in their hands. It is quite obvious that under these circumstances, it is becoming difficult for the weavers to even eat food two times a day. Migration has become a necessity for them. After the migration of many workers, the situation of many households has become drastic. The women are living their lives confined within the walls of these households. The children are deprived of education and they are forced into child labour because there is no other option. Once again the political use of helpless people has gained momentum in the slums. People are persuaded to take part in rallies but the vital and urgent questions of unassisted people like Shakila Khatoon, Rahmati Khatoon and Idrish Ansari are blown away by senseless politicians.

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