INDUSTRIES

COTTAGE INDUSTRIES

Besides the large and small industries described hitherto, there are many traditional crafts conducted on household and cottage industries scale. They mostly comprise processing and servicing establishments catering to the requirements of the local population. The main industries that form this group are handloom weaving, handicrafts and professions like carpentry, bricks and tiles making, pottery, cane and bamboo works, oil ghanis and tasar silk weaving.

Cotton Weaving (Handloom)

The cotton weaving industry is a very old industry in the district. The old Gazetteer of Chandrapur district, published in 1909 has the following to say about it:―

" The cotton fabrics of Chandrapur formerly possessed a wide reputation for excellence and durability: they used to be largely exported to western India, and Sir R. Jenkins mentions that prior to 1802 A.D. coarse cloth made at Chandrapur found their way as far a field as Arabia. White cotton selas for loin-cloths, white cotton dorias and param, a coarse white cotton fabric used the native saddle-cloths, horse clothing, etc., are the articles singled out by Sir R. Jenkins as the special products of Chandrapur: but none of these are said to be made now. The same authority also wrote that ' the chintzes of Chandrapur are much worn in Gondwana and Berar by the women '. Much of this glory has now departed, although the saris of Chandrapur still possess a more or less extended reputation, and certain amount of local cotton cloth is exported to Amraoti and Akola in Berar. The anticipations of Major Lucie Smith, who was confident that Chandrapur, thanks to its possession of coal and cotton in close juxtaposition, would are long command the markets of Central India with its piece-goods, have fallen very wide of the mark. So far from commanding other markets, the piece-goods of Chandrapur have to a large extent been elbowed out of their own: according to the estimates of local cloth merchants of the town, the annual cloth transactions of Chandrapur city amount to five lakhs: of this three lakhs represent the value of cloth imported from outside, while of the remaining two lakhs worth, which is produced locally, only one half is consumed locally, the other halt being exported: this is of course avowedly only a very rough estimate. The mills of Hinganghat and Nagpur are easily able to flood the local market with cheap cloth: a common cotton sari with a red and blue check made by Momins of Nagpur and sold at Chandrapur for Rs. 1.10 easily undersells any similar article of local manufacture. In spite of these facts, there is still an extensive manufacture of coarse cotton cloths in nearly every village. Dhers or Mahars are usually the weavers. They turn out coarse dhotis which sell at Rs. 2 to Rs. 3 the pair, and saris at a similar price, and these garments are largely worn by the lower classes. The counts of thread employed are coarse, never higher than 20's and usually not above 12's or 16's, and this thread is now practically all obtained from local mills. After manufacture, the cloth is often dyed or printed in colours by local Chhipas or Rangaris. Mahars also prepare a coarse red cloth called toshak which is stuffed with raw cotton and sold in the form of a quilt for about Rs. 1-8. Probably there are at least 250 families of Dhers in Chandrapur alone who are engaged in the manufacture of cotton cloths, and a proportionate number would be found in most of the larger villages ".

The census report for 1921 for Central Provinces and Berar states that weaving was almost universal and was reported to have received some impetus from the non-co-operation movement in favour of Khadi or country cloth but this was purely a temporary phenomenon. The industry had also been assisted by the high prices of machine made cloth during the war. During 1920 the makers generally dealt directly with their customers at the weekly bazar. The weavers generally used old fashioned looms.

However, the conditions changed during the decade. The census report of Central Provinces and Berar for 1931 has to say the following about the same: -

" The weavers cannot readily produce goods of more modern pattern to keep pace with changing fashions. Only those weavers who turn out finer and more artistic fabrics which cannot be manufactured in factories could hold their own in the industry. The competition of factory made piece-goods continued to hit the rest hard during the decade. The condition of the vast mass of handloom weavers engaged in the manufacture of ordinary sarees and dhotis is thus deteriorating still further.

The industry subsequently thrived on account of the shortage of cotton and high prices of mill made cloth resulting from the Second World War. The position of the industry, however, did not remain the same as it was in the past and now it can no longer be regarded as a profitable and prospective business ".

As per 1961 Census, the number of drawers and weavers in the district is placed at 5,006. There were 8,013 cotton and 62 non-cotton handlooms in the district by the end of May 1961. The handloom workers are mostly the weavers of sarees, dhotis, phetas (turban), shelas of finer counts and coarse cotton cloth known for its texture and designs. Some times the cloth produced is a mixture of silk and cotton threads at times mixed with gold and silver thread borders. Chandrapur town is famous for such quality of cloth. The cotton fabrics of Chandrapur which formerly possessed a wide reputation for excellence and durability and which were largely exported to Western India and as far as Arabia are not much in demand now though wearing them is still considered a mark of distinction on ceremonial occasions. The large number of persons still engaged in the handloom industry shows that these weavers are still tenaciously holding their own against the mechanised production perhaps on The patronage of those who still prefer the unique feature or this cloth and of wearing it.

Tasar Silk Industry.

Tasar silk industry occupies an important place among the cottage industries in the district. About the industry, the old District Gazetteer of Chanda has the following to say-

"The tasar silk industry has for some years attracted the attention of Government as a valuable and interesting cottage industry capable of considerable development. It divides itself naturally into three branches, the first being concerned with the rearing of the silk cocoons, the second with the spinning of yarn from the cocoons, and the third with the weaving of the yarn into the finished article. Chandrapur is more famous for its spinning industry than for the other two departments".

"Rearing of tasar silk worms. -The rearing of the tasar silk worm is conducted in the forests of the Bramhapuri, Garhchiroli and Sironcha tahsils. This branch of the industry is entirely in the hands of Dhimars, except in Sironcha. where, curiously enough, the Bhois or local Dhimars absolutely refuse to have anything to do with the rearing of worms, and this task falls to the Gonds and a few Naiks. The operation is hedged about with countless superstitions and. while engaged upon it, the Dhimar entirely cuts himself off from all intercourse with his family and lives a life apart. In this District, seed cocoons are invariably wild, and this is an advantage as the cocoons deteriorate under the influence of domestication. On the other hand, they are small and of poor quality even in their wild state, while the domesticated Chanda cocoon is the worst in the whole Province. This dependence on wild cocoons has another drawback. Each rearer is only able to collect a few cocoons, and he has therefore to breed the preliminary crops merely with a view of increasing his stock so that it is only when he has raised a third crop that he is able to sell to the spinner. The disadvantage of this is that the worms, which are heirs to countless dangers, are exposed to those dangers for a much longer period than is usual elsewhere, and. in addition to this, the third or jadni crop on which the breeder solely relies comes at the beginning of the cold weather at a period when the worms are subject to a particularly great risk. of disease. Frequently, especially in the last few years, crops have been entirely lost from this cause. The worms are always reared out of doors, generally on the saj or yen tree (Terminalia tomentosa) which is roughly pollarded for the purpose. The risks to be faced come not only from birds, against which the worms can be more or less guarded, but also from the uncontrollable forces of wind and weather. Long drought, severe cold, storms or continuous wet weather are all in different ways fatal: heavy rain after protracted drought induces the much dreaded disease known as grasserie. Cocoons are sold to the Koshti spinners at rates varying from Rs. 2 to Rs. 5 per 1,000, the latter rate, however, is only approached for superior cocoons or in bad years when the supply is short. An average crop for one breeder would he about 5,000 cocoons. Tasar-worm rearers are not usually welcome guests to the Forest Officer, as their operations bring in no revenue to speak of and are destructive to the jungle. The policy of Government has therefore been in the direction of placing the rearers under the wing of the revenue officials, by setting aside areas of suitable B class forest and handing over the management of these to the revenue authorities. Twenty acres of forest, worked in rotation for periods of four years, were laid down as a sufficient allowance for the support of one Dhimar family. The main object in view in these proceedings was to increase the supply of cocoons, as it was held that the demand for tasar silk was ample, and that the great want was an increased outturn of cocoons: it is doubtful, however, if this view is well founded. The average area set aside for rearing the tasar worm in Government forest during the last three years is 1882 acres.

"Tasar silk spinning.- The spinning industry is conducted by Koshtis or Koskatis, who prepare the cocoons for reeling off by boiling them in an infusion of water and castor seeds or the ashes of the agra plant. Probably there are about 200 families of tasar spinners in the whole District, and they are for the most part concentrated in Saoli, Chamursi, Garhchiroli. Armori, and Nagbhir. Nagbhir is the most famous centre of the industry, and before the famine there used to be 100 families of spinners in this place alone. The Nagbhir spinners make a very uniform and high class yarn in the preparation of which they reject the inferior surface fibre and frequently mix the native cocoons with superior cocoons imported from Bengal. One person can reel from 25 to 75 cocoons per diem, the average number being 50 or 60. According to the statistics collected by Mr. Mukerji, 10,000 cocoons yield from 30 to 37 tolas of silk: the yarn is sold in bundles called punjas and 100 bunjas weighing from 40 to 55 tolas, sell at rates varying from Rs. 5 to Rs. 8. according to the quality and the demand. Thread is made of various strengths from 3-ply up to 12-ply. There is much room for improvement in the methods of reeling, which are of a very primitive kind: the spinning machine is. however, of a superior type to that used in adjoining Districts.

Imitation silk made in Germany of cellulose has of late years reduced prices and to some extent threatened the industry. But there is a good demand for Chanda yarn at Umrer, Paoni and Nagpur. and the spinning industry is fairly flourishing.

"Tasar Weaving.-In the weaving of tasar silk this district does net excel, and weavers are but few in number. Four families at Armori and six at Chamursi appear to exhaust the roll: these do their own spinning as well as weaving. The material produced is coarse in texture and is not for a moment to be compared with the products of Sambalpur: it has, however, good wearing qualities, and for this reason is more popular than the more delicate fabrics of that District. At Armori, saris are made with ornamental ruipluli borders, but at Chamursi plain saris or at most saris with a plain border were till lately all that could be produced. These were of a dirty white colour the colour of widow's weeds, and no woman would wear them. In 1903, however, Government deputed a weaver from Sambalpur to show the weavers of Chamursi how to dye thread and to weave the ornamental pattern which takes its name from the village of Barpali. A few of the weavers succeeded in learning the desired lesson: but as they are unable to produce a sari of this type for less than Rs. 30 or Rs. 35 and as they received no orders the experiment has not been an unqualified success. It is doubtful whether even from the artistic standpoint much is to be gained from the introduction of this pattern. The texture of the local fabric is so rough that the pattern, graceful on the more delicate fabric of Sambalpur. here loses much of its effect. Pagris or phetas, saris and dhotis[Dhoti, a flowing cloth bound round the waist and legs. It is generally bordered with purple or red, blue or green like the toga proetexta, and in Mysore the dhoti is called togataru. (Birdwood).] are the principal articles turned out, and Mr. Mukerji mentions with approbation one very neat pattern of the latter which be saw at Armori: it was, however, very highly priced as compared with similar articles made in Bengal. Tasar silk as well as ordinary floss silk is looked on with favour by natives as particularly pure and suitable for ceremonial purposes: it is not polluted, like cotton, by the touch of an unholy thing. A piece of finished tasar 9 yards long by 24 inches broad fetches Rs. 4 at Chamursi and Rs. 5 at Chandrapur, but superior pieces may run to Rs. 6: these prices fluctuate with the supply of silk, in bad years as much as Rs. 8 or Rs. 9 being charged.

Formerly there was a fair export trade in tasar yarn silk from about Dabha to the Nizam's dominions, but this has now altogether declined under the competition of German imitation silk. All branches of the tasar industry suffered heavily during the famines, but have since to some extent recovered ".

The census report for Central Provinces and Berar for 1931 states " The silk and tasar industry decayed still further and now exists on a small scale only in the Bilaspur, Chanda, Bhandara and Nagpur districts. The bulk of the yarn used is foreign or locally spun from cocoons imported from Bihar and Orissa and Bengal ". About the same industry the earlier census report stated ' There is a little silk and tasar weaving in Chandrapur, Nagpur. Bhandara and Raipur, but the industry is unimportant'.

Recently the Government have undertaken measures for the improvement of tasar silk industry. Under the scheme of improvement of tasar silk industry one research and production centre has been set up at Armori (1962-63 and 1963-64) in the district and 75 tasar reeling machines have been supplied. It also provides for the training facilities in tasar silk weaving. Advice and assistance are also given to those who are engaged in tasar silk weaving.

Bidi Industry.

Bidi industry is an important cottage industry and provides a subsidiary source of livelihood to agricultural labourers in the post-harvest period. The industry is suitable for such casual work because it neither requires much capital investment nor demands special skill. As tendu leaves required for making bidies are available in abundance in the district, bidi making has become a prosperous industry. According to the Census of 1951, 312 persons including 4 women were engaged in the manufacture of bidis. As per the 1961 Census, the bidi industry engaged 571 workers.

The census report for Central Provinces and Berar, 1931, states " In spite of the large number of women and children engaged in the industry no special facilities for women and children are provided at work places The hours of work for women and children vary from 8 to 10 hours per day alongwith men and manufacture of bidis is rarely carried on at night but where it is done the lighting arrangements are reported to be sufficient Employees generally take leaves to their homes to cut them into proper shape at night for making bidis the next day. but the actual manufacture is carried on at the employer's place in halls or big shades or open varandahs, of various sizes. Decided overcrowding is reported from most centres but lighting and ventilation are generally said to be satisfactory".

These conditions underwent a radical change in post-Independence period with the Government undertaking various schemes and making endeavours towards improving the conditions of the workers.

During the Census of 1931 for the Central Provinces and Berar it was revealed that Chanda district had two units manufacturing bidis employing 15 men, 10 women and 5 children. The same census report states " There is no doubt that the Swadeshi movement which started during the first decade of the present century gave the industry a very great impetus. The present boycott movement has also further increased the demand for biris and this trade is certainly not affected by the prevailing economic depression ".

Generally workers are employed on piece rate basis whose wages are fixed around Rs. 1.75 per thousand bidis in municipal areas and around Rs. 1.25 in the non-municipal areas. They are supplied with all the necessary material like tobacco, leaves. thread, etc. The contractors generally act as agents between the factory owners and these worker3. The contractors give the owner a fixed number of bidis against the fixed quota of raw material given to them. The contractors are paid an agreed rate of commission for their services.

Basket Making.

Basket making is a hereditary occupation of the Burud community. The census of 1951 gives the figure of 2,490 persons including 575 women as engaged in basket, making besides 34 including 9 women engaged in other industries of wooden materials including leaves, but not including furniture or fixtures.

According to the 1961 census,5,466 persons were engaged in the manufacture of material from cane leaves, bamboo, etc. These are mostly the basket weavers and mat weavers who use the raw material of cane bamboo and grass abundantly available from the forests of the district. The number of persons with occupation as baskets weavers was quite considerable in the district.

Besides baskets. they manufacture sup (winnowing fans), topalis duradis,rovalis and karandis. The tools required are a sickle (koyata) and a knife. Bamboo strips are taken out with a sickle and wetted. Moistening the strip makes the weaving of the baskets easy. The products are mostly sold locally.

The profit margin that these artisans got was very low as was evident from the cost of production and the selling prices. The sieve (duradi) was sold at 0.62 p. the cost of production of which was- 0.44 p. Similarly in case of winnowing fan (sup), hara and karandi also the selling prices were Re. 0.50; Rs. 2.00 and Re. 0.75 against the cost of production of Re. 0.30: Re. 1.00 and Re, 0.50. Their earnings from the occupation were too meagre to allow them moderate living standards.

Carpenters

Carpenters are engaged in making and repairing furniture of daily use such as chairs, cupboards, benches, cradles, agricultural implements, handlooms and warping frames. They also manufacture, fix or repair doors and door frames, wooden roof beams, etc.

According to the census of 1951, 2,616 persons including 2,587 men and 29 women were engaged as carpenters, turners and jointers. The 1961 census records a rise by about 35.7 per cent and gives the figure of 3,511 engaged as carpenters, jointers, cabinet makers, etc. A carpenter's tools are saw, plaining machine, foot rule, hammer, nails, screws, chisel etc. Some of the artisans are engaged by the contractors and karkhandars on wage basis, the wages depending upon their skill and the type of work they are required to do.

Pottery Making.

The 1951 census enumerated 1,154 persons composed of 1,078 men and 76 women as potters and makers or earthenware. The 1961 census gives the figure of 2,911 persons as engaged in making earthen pottery. According to the 1961 census handbook of Chanda district these are mostly village potters, a majority of whom still work on the traditional baluta system under which they get a fixed quantity of foodgrains at the harvest time for supply of earthenware during the year.

The potters still use traditional equipment. It consists of potter's wheel, moulds, pick axes, ghamelas and kiln to bake the pots. The main raw materials required are horse dung, clay and coal ash with fallen dry leaves of banyan and pipal trees used for baking. The potters prepare madkas, ranjan, thalis and gadgis.

The process making these articles is a curious one. The rotating potter's wheel gives the material the proper shape with the potter's hand synchronising with the movement of the wheel. The pots are baked in kiln after drying them in the sun. The pots are then glazed and polished. Some of the potters also make earthen toys. In spite of the age old techniques of production, the industry is flourishing as the machine made products cannot easily replace the indigenous ones.

Industries getting assistance from Khadi and Gramodyog Mandal.

The policy of the Government is to help the cottage industries so as to provide employment to the rural population. Government gives impetus to the formation of co-operatives of artisans for purpose. This assistance is given through the Maharashtra State Khadi and Gramodyog Mandal which provides financial help to oil crushing, pottery, tiles, palm-gur making, making of non-edible oils and soaps, leather products, limestone-industry and rope making (wakh). The following paras give a short description of these industries for the year 1966.

Oil Crushing.

Two co-operative societies of the artisans engaged in oil crushing are provided with financial assistance by the Mandal. The people of the district are mostly habituated to consuming linseed oil and the Mandal provides the oilman necessary finances to store linseed for extraction. The individual crushers from Nanhori, Navegaon, Pandav, Chandrapur, Pamurna and Mul have been rendered assistance through service co-operatives.

The Mandal proposes to establish the industry in a few more villages as the products of the industry have a wide demand in the local market. The industry provides employment to 83 persons who are paid Rs. 75,760 as wages.

Pottery and Tiles.

The industry is popularly known as Kumbhar industry. The Mandal has provided financial assistance to nine societies of artisans engaged in this industry. Of these societies, one is engaged in the production of glazed earthenware and the other one in the manufacture of Mangalore tiles. The main raw material required for the industry is clay which is abundantly available in the district.

The sale of Mangalore tiles produced by the society fetched Rs. 1,36,720 during the year. It provided employment to 121 persons and an amount of Rs. 12,106 was distributed by way of wages. The production of glazed pottery provided employment to 14 persons. They were paid about Rs. 13,860 by way of wages. An amount of Rs. 74,561 was realised through the sale of pottery. The Mangalore tiles as also the glazed pottery were exported outside the district.

Palm-gur Industry.

Of the six societies formed for the manufacture of palm-gur, no society had started production. Of these, five are engaged in the sale of neera. During the year the production of neera was 1,05,764 litres of which a quantity of 99,920.500 litres was consumed and the remaining was destroyed. It provided employment to 79 persons who were paid Rs. 23,700 as wages.

Non-edible Oil and soap Industry.

The production of soap has not yet commenced in both the soap producing centres in the district. Ten centres have been established for the collection of non-edible oil-seeds. The work is mostly entrusted to the forest workers' societies. It provides employment to about 300 persons during the season.

Leather Industry.

In the district, there are 11 co-operative societies engaged in leather tanning and manufacturing leather products. During the year their production was valued at Rs. 12,494 and they realised an approximate amount of Rs. 12,000 through its sale. The industry provided employment to 106 persons to whom an amount of about Rs. 2,370 was distributed as wages. The Mandal also provided an aid of Rs. 1,455 to 66 road-side cobblers by way of supplying them with implements.

Limestone.

The district has huge deposits of limestone. Recently a society has been formed and has been given an amount of Rs. 5,000 as loan and Rs. 1,000 as assistance by the Mandal. Kilns have been constructed and they are expected to start production soon.

Rope Making.

Refugee women from East Pakistan have been given training in rope making and their co-operative society has been formed. The society has been given a loan of Rs. 20,900 and an assistance of Rs. 4,890.

Besides assisting the industries mentioned earlier, the Mandal started a training centre at Sironcha for the adivasis. At the centre they are trained in making fanciful articles and also palm-gur and other things from palm trees as the region abounds in them. The Mandal also helps in the rehabilitation of the refugees from East Pakistan. Accordingly training centres have been opened for them at refugee camps at Chandrapur, Babupeth and Bhadravati where training is imparted in carpentry, pottery, leather work, rope making, etc. The district offers ample scope for starting various village industries based on forest produce like gum, honey, katechu, bamboos, etc.

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