By: Afaq Bhat
Srinagar: The government’s initiative to brand Kashmir silk is a major step towards reviving the industry.
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha while inaugurating the Modernized & Upgraded Government Silk Weaving Factory at Rajbagh, Srinagar said that it’s the first step towards revival and holistic development of the silk industry in the Union Territory.
The Government Silk Weaving Factory was established in 1937 and has been in operation since then. Over a period of time, most of the machinery had become obsolete and the factory suffered huge damage to the infrastructure in the floods of 2014.
According to the officials the silk factory has been upgraded and modernized with a project cost of Rs 23.54 crore under the World Bank Funded Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Project.
Under the upgradation plan, a new factory with state-of-the-art preparatory and weaving machinery has been installed.
An expert while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “The silk industry has got an historical significance as the silk fabrics were exported to Persia, Greece and Rome during the earlier periods.”
He said, “In 1995-96 silk industry and its allied activities provided employment to about 2.50 lakh people and contributed about Rs 60 million to the income of J&K. It also provided raw material for shawl making, carpet, gabha, namda, hosiery and embroidery making. There are two silk factories in J&K, the Rambagh Silk Factory was established in May 1897 by Raja Ranbir Singh under the supervision of Malton. Another silk factory is in Jammu.”
Another expert said, “The government should also pay some attention towards another oldest industry in Kashmir i.e. carpet weaving. Kashmiri carpets are famous all over the world for their craftsmanship and designs.”
The carpet weaving is not a big industry it comprises small looms that are functional in every nook and corner of the Valley.
He said, “The people engaged in carpet weaving are usually underage and underpaid. They work in unhygienic conditions with no job security. About 75% of carpets manufactured in Kashmir are exported to Middle East and North-West Europe (U.K., France, Netherland, Germany, Denmark, Italy and Belgium). Carpet export is one of the leading items of foreign exchange earners.”
The expert said that there are many industries in Kashmir that need to be revived. “The government has taken the first step. It needs to take many more initiatives to revive the old trades of Kashmir. Revival of sick industries can generate employment and revenue,” he added.