No powerlooms for pashmina weaving in Srinagar district

In a significant move to protect the livelihood of thousands of pashmina weavers, the Srinagar administration has banned manufacturing of shawls by machines in the district.

An order issued by the Srinagar District Magistrate on Wednesday said the Genuine Kashmir Cottage Manufacturing Forum had submitted a representation to his office, stating that there were a lot of units in Srinagar district which were using machines for the production of pashmina and were not using 100 per cent pashmina wool.

“For the manufacturing of pashmina on powerlooms, nylon is used with pashmina,” the order said. The order said the matter had been carefully examined.

“Now, I District Magistrate, Srinagar, in the exercise of powers vested in me, hereby impose restrictions on the manufacturing of pashmina and kani production on powerlooms for a period of one year in the first instance,” the order said.

For the last many years, pashmina artisans have been protesting the use of powerlooms for it had put the livelihood of nearly 4 lakh artisans in jeopardy and endangered the decades-old craft. Pashmina shawls weaved by Kashmiri artisans fetch millions of rupees in European and other western markets.

The introduction of machines to make duplicate pashmina shawls has hit the reputation of the craft and put customers at increased risk of being cheated. Artisans say it had also decreased the demand for pashmina.

“It proved dangerous for the shawl market. Customers also felt something was wrong. It hit the demand in the international market. The craft needs to be preserved,” said Abdul Ahad, 60, an artisan from the Batpora locality on the outskirts of Srinagar.

The powerlooms operating in various parts of Kashmir are not registered for making pashmina products and operate illegally, using nylon for production.

“We demand that there should be measures in Kashmir to bring an end to the manufacturing of the intricate shawls by machines. An artisan takes months to make a single shawl,” said Khalida Jan, 35, an artisan from Srinagar.

Operate illegally

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