Political upheavals in a particular city have an impact on its local industries. A recent example of this is the impact of abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir on the textile industries of Amritsar. Kashmir was one of the major markets for Amritsar’s woven textiles, especially the tweeds used for making phiran. Moreover, the shawls and stoles made in Amritsar were largely sold in Kashmir.
Besides, woven textiles, Kashmir was also a major market for blended and recycled wool produced in Amritsar’s weaving clusters. Amritsar has over 500 shuttle less looms and shawls and stoles woven in the city are famous the world over. Recent figures from General Manager of the Amritsar District Industries Centre reveal that during good times, the weaving segment in the city achieved a turnover of Rs 10,000 crore. However, the current Kashmir situation has adversely impacted these weaving units with several manufacturers and traders experiencing delays in their payments.
Demonetisation, GST leads to rapid decline in the sector To cope with this decline, textile unit owners in the city are dabbling in other segments like real estate and tourism. Only weaving units are doing some business while the rest of the sector is down in the dumps. Earlier, the city had 125 processing units engaged in dyeing, embroidery, knitting and other textile work. Presently, only 35 of these are operational. Of the two lakh people directly and indirectly employed by industry, almost 80 per cent have returned to their homes in UP and Bihar.
Demonetisation, GST, and frequent changes in policy without a comprehensive strategy have bought the city’s textile sector to its knees. High prices of raw materials, mainly man-made yarns and viscose yarns are some of the other reasons for the sector’s downslide in the city.
Need for government’s intervention for revival
In order to make its products competitive in terms of price and quality across the country and also abroad, Amritsar needs to reopen its Kashmir market besides availing government concessions on products. But this seems difficult to achieve as the city’s industries department does not have the required data on the size or shape or expanse of the city’s textile sector
Given these circumstances, tourism is emerging as the stronghold of Amritsar’s economy. As the city has an international airport at Rajasansi alongwith several new hospitality chains, it receives around 80,000 to 1 lakh visitors per day. These numbers double during important festivals such as Baisakhi and Gurpurab. On the other hand, the textile sector is seeking a number of government initiatives for the revival of the sector in the city. It has urged the government to establish an institute for MSMEs besides releasing a special economic package for border areas, formulating a comprehensive textile policy, setting up of a convention centre and making raw materials available at competitive rates.