In Manpur’s Patwatoli village, small weavers and powerloom owners are facing tough times, unable to compete with the technologically advanced machines prevalent today.
Known as ‘Mini Kanpur’, powerlooms and handlooms are present in nearly every household in the village. From gamchas (traditional cotton towels) to quilts, mattresses and pillow covers, all of these products are made in the village.
However, the situation has changed in the village and the wide array of fabrics it creates are being superseded by cheaper fabrics and increasingly machine-driven processes.
Gopal Prasad Patwa, President of Bihar Pradesh Weavers Welfare Association, said that threads used to be made in many areas, including Gaya, Bhagalpur and Mokama, but these factories were gradually closed.
He also added that Mini Textile Park Screening Yarn Mill at Gaya would be a beneficial aid to the micro cottage textile industry. He said that the adoption of modern technology would lead to a decrease in costs while increasing production quality.
The village has around 12,000 powerloom machines with 1,000 textile production units of a large number of handloom machines. Over 20,000 workers are directly or indirectly employed to operate the machines along with dyeing and washing the yarn.
These machines have been running in Manpur for three to four generations. A majority of handlooms that existed earlier have been replaced by powerlooms, which run at a higher speed, thereby increasing production. As a result, people started preferring powerlooms to handlooms.
Bihar State President of Laghu Udyog Bharati, Ravindra Singh, said that 70-75 per cent of the produced goods are sent to West Bengal, with supplies also going to Assam, Odisha and Jharkhand.
He added that the traders who used to buy goods from them earlier, have stopped since the quality of goods is lower due to not being made with modern technology.
He even said that the people of the village are unable to change their machines due to the difficulties faced in availing bank loans. Along with this, he added that recently, discharging chemicals used to dye yarn in the drains was banned due to concerns of pollution, further adding to the villagers’ problems.