Bargarh: Even as National Handloom Day will be observed across the country Monday, bringing the famous Sambalpuri handloom sarees within the ambit of goods and service tax (GST) has pushed the future of weavers into darkness, a report said.
Earlier, this unique handloom product was out of the tax net. Weavers from various parts of this Western Orissa district have condemned the Centre’s move and demanded withdrawal of GST on this work of art.
Sambalpuri handloom clothing has carved a niche for itself in the market for its intricate design known as the Bandha art.
While weavers were fighting over the recent influx of fake Sambalpuri sarees in the market, the inclusion of the handloom products within the ambit of GST has dealt a blow to their existence, it was learnt.
The 5 per cent GST on Sambalpuri sarees and dress material is going to hit sales, weavers claimed.
This correspondent met some weavers who were of the opinion that the Centre should withdraw GST from this unique product and restrict the flow of fake Sambalpuri sarees into the market.
Swarnalata Meher, a national award winning weaver, said “Weaving the Bandha designs on clothing is our traditional occupation for which we were not paying any tax before. However, the introduction of GST will certainly affect our livelihood as the sarees will become costlier than before leading to decline in demand for the products.”
Another national award winning weaver Sasmita Meher termed the move as unfortunate. “While the Centre has reduced GST rate on textile mills after repeated demands it is yet take a call on Sambalpuri handloom products.”
Ramakrushna Meher, another national award winner weaver, questioned the logic behind levying GST on the products which are produced by weavers on their own labour.
Surendra Meher, yet another national award winner weaver, said they were expecting some sops from the Centre but it instead levied GST on Sambalpuri handloom products serving a death blow to the trade.
International award winning weaver Sukanti Meher wondered why should a weaver pay tax when he/she has to work for over 12 days to produce a handloom saree.
“The government should understand our problems and provide us succor. Rewarding a few weavers for their work is going to do no good for the trade,” she opined.