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Bhagalpur: Foreign artificial silk yarns now has given a facelift to the century old traditional silk manufacturing units of Bhagalpur. And the traditional Bhagalpuri silk which once stood tall with its arrogances in the world markets, today collapsed completely due to introduction of the foreign artificial yarns.
Old silk route which had been highlighted during Narndra Modi’s visits to China and Korea in 2015 was actually the ancient route through which had helped much to Bhagalpuri silk (Tasar) to flourish in the world markets. With the changing of time, silk smugglers managed to replace traditional Tasar silk cocoons with China-Korea yarns ( synthetic silk threads) in this century old Bhagalpuri silk industry.
Weavers here started rampant use of the foreign yarns in manufacturing silk cloths after availing the opportunity to have the foreign threads comparatively in low rates. Bhagalpuri silk gradually lost its credentials in work markets after the introduction of foreign yarns.
Niranjan Poddar, a silk exporter here recalled the golden days and alleged that due to the wide interference of China-Korea yarns, Bhagalpur has lost the essence of traditional indigenous silk. He recalled Bhagalpur once witnessed annual turn over of Rs 500 crores business in silk, today hardly managed to do the business over Rs 150-200 crores annually. “Due to the use of the foreign yarns, Bhagalpuri silk earned a bad reputation in the world markets,” he pointed out.
Pranesh Kumar Roy another silk manufacturer who recently shifted his business to Bangalore alleged that down fall of Bhagalpuri silk was started from 1889 with the infamous Bhagalpur communal riots. “Silk syndicate was the mastermind behind the riot which subsequently destroyed traditional silk industry here and subsequently introduced the China-Korea yarns here,” he alleged.
Old timers here associated with silk industry recalled that replacing of indigenous silk yarn into artificial foreign silk yarns had started sometimes in early eighties. According to Mukutdhari Agarwal, president of Eastern Bihar Industry Association, the problem started from 1955 when the union government had relaxed the import of artificial yarns and cloths from abroad. But with the protests, the government banned it in 1960 but by that time organized silk syndicates had started rampant cross border smuggling of the yarns and through Bangladesh and Nepal, China-Korea yarns started arriving Bhagalpur, he pointed out.
“ We have started using the foreign yarns at Tana (Tana and Bana, the horizontal and vertical lines in the looms for fixing threads in weaving cloths) since after 1989. We are using more than 69 percent foreign yarns in weaving,” revealed Md. Mokin, a silk weaver at Momintola, in Nathnagar here. He said that over 4 thousand power looms are working there but non of them preparers pure silk cloths. “You could hardly find any individual village here where pure silk is produced while before 1989 it was a common episode,” he added further.
Echoing Mokim, Poddar pointed out local Tasar (silk) is available at Rs 6000-7000 per Kg while China-Korea is at Rs 4500-4700 per Kg, a weaver could prepared hardly 3-4 meter of cloths after day long labour while at the same effort 10 meter of cloth could be prepared within 12 hours. Similarly, indigenous Tasar only could be prepared on handlooms while the artificial foreign yarn could be woven both on handlooms and power looms.
The infamous communal carnage at Bhagalpur on 1989 was engineered just to establish the foreign yarns in the traditional set up of century old silk industry, believe many social scientists. “Various research works already established how the yarn mafias managed to spread the riots here on 1989 which is supposed to be the worst even communal tension in the post Independent days in India,” said Prof. Vijay, a noted social worker here. The riot targeted all the indigenous silk hubs village after village and destroyed the silk industry mainly the manufacturing of silk yarns. Interestingly, at the same time the smugglers also managed the foreign yarns in the hands of the weavers who were virtually starving at that time due to the damage of the industry here. Having no other options, the weavers started the foreign yarns at that time and the practice gradually increased. Finally more than 90 percent works done here today are from the foreign yarns. Foreign yarns today is available easily as the government withheld the ban on its due to its economic liberalization policy, point out the social engineers here.
“ The easy availability of foreign yarn somehow managed to run the century old silk industry here but on the otherhand century old silk industry lost its essence as well as destroyed the reputation of Bhagalpuri silk in foreign markets,” Poddar pointed out.