To safeguard the interests of artisans, authorities have imposed a one year ban on manufacture of Pashmina and Kani products on power looms within the jurisdiction of Srinagar district.
An order issued by Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary says the ban will be implemented with immediate effect adding that the step was taken after complaints from genuine Kashmir art weavers that many “units were operating in Srinagar to manufacture Pashmina and Kani products without using 100 percent Pashmina”.
“I district magistrate Srinagar in exercise of powers vested in me by virtue of section 144 of Cr PC hereby impose restrictions on manufacture of Pashmina and Kani products on power looms within jurisdiction of Srinagar for a period of one year in the first instance,” read the order.
It also stated that the power looms were following a practice of using nylon with Pashmina which was against the “traditional values of this handicraft,”
Artisan associations have in the past demanded ban on making of Pashmina products on power looms.
Welcoming the ban, Showkat Mir, general secretary, Genuine Kashmir Cottage Handicraft Protection Forum said it was a representation from this umbrella body that government has acted on. He said the ban must be extended to rest of the Valley as well. Mir told Greater Kashmir that more than 40 power looms, mostly located in industrial areas, which are “meant for producing count Ruffle are weaving Pashmina instead”.
“Mushrooming growth of power looms and spinning mills which are producing pashmina has rendered more than 4 lakh artisans across Kashmir jobless. This order will help the weavers heave a sigh of relief,” said Mir.
The Pashmina weavers said spinning plants add nylon with pashmina which adversely affects the quality. “Once the cloth is ready, carbonised acid is spread on it which majorly affects the quality and life of the pashmina,” said another weaver.
“Lakhs of households are dependent on handmade Pashmina products and it is welcome step that government is concerned with this reality by not allowing weaving of pashmina and kani products on power looms,” Mir said.
He said a huge number of women used to be associated with handmade Pashmina who have been now deprived of their livelihood adding that “pro-weaver decision will infuse life in Pashmina weaving,”.
“A large fraternity of handmade weavers, mostly located in Shahr-e-Khaas have been adversely hit by power looms. Tral, Pulwama, Nowgam are some of the hubs of Pashmina weaving where handmade weaving used to take place. While handmade weavers can make half of a Pashmina shawl in one day but machines produce hundreds of shawls in the same time. They are working against ethics of Kashmir handicrafts and banning them is a wise decision,” said another weaver.
Mir said Industries department, Handloom and Handicraft department must continue the ban on powerlooms making pashmina in order to address issues of marginalised artisans.