Textile industry businessmen in Surat are flying in their workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha trained to operate Jacquard looms to meet the demands for the upcoming festive season, as trains are running packed from these states.
In the past one week, 40 migrant workers were flown to Surat and many more are coming, said a textile industry source.
Kaushal Padshala, owner of Raj Textiles at Sachin GIDC, who runs electronic jacquard machines power loom machines, booked six flight tickets — four from Varanasi in UP and two from Patna — to bring back technicians and operators.
“I came to Surat on Monday by flight… Our owner arranged for it as trains running from UP are running packed. He bought us flight tickets and also arranged taxi to pick us up from Surat airport,” said Shivchander Chauhan, 42, from Varanasi in UP who has been working in Padshala’s factory for five years.
Talking to The Indian Express, Kaushal Padshala said, “The electronic jacquard machines are costly and I have over 90 such machines in my factory. My factory was shut for five months and now we are facing problems with starting the machines. Hence we decided to spend on flight tickets to get back the migrant workers who are experts in operating them. I have spent between Rs 6,000 to Rs 6,500 per head. Once the machine gets operational, I can bring in other workers. If the machines remains shut for a few more months, I may end up spending huge amount to repair them.” A Jacquard loom can create patterns while weaving and thus add value to the product.
“We have started receiving orders from other states and to meet the demand, we have to get the machines operational. The total strength of migrant workers in my factory is 180 and at present I have 20 operators and technicians. Will first start all the machines and later bring in other workers,” he added.
Federation of Gujarat Weavers’ Association president, Ashok Jirawala, said, “At present only 30 per cent of the powerloom factories is operational in day shift, with 20 per cent production. The industry is looking to meet the upcoming demands and is putting in all efforts to bring back labourers to Surat. Over 10 lakh labourers left Surat when the industry shut due to the pandemic.”
Hiren Mawani, who runs a textile factory at Pandesara GIDC, said, “I have 60 electronic jacquard machines in my factory and to restart them, we need experts. I bought six flight tickets from Patna to Delhi to Mumbai for machine operators and technicians who arrived two days ago. I also sent a car to Mumbai airport to ferry them to Surat. We have also given them Rs 5,000 each to buy rations for now.”
Pointing out that out of the 350 dyeing and printing houses, only 125 are working now with 40 per cent production, South Gujarat Textile Procession Association president, Jitu Vakhariya, said, “The factories that are partially operational, are running on tremendous loss. We have requested the central government to start free train services from UP, Bihar and Odisha to tide over the labour crunch in textile industry.”