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Cover Story | February 2017

Ichalkaranji: Progressive decentralised textile centre

There are about 160 sizing units, consisting of 250 sizing machines, which include conventional to modern machines and 1.2 lakh powerlooms in Ichalkaranji, explains Prof (Dr) PV Kadole and Prof (Dr) UJ Patil.

Ichalkaranji is a city in Kolhapur district in the state of Maharashtra. This city, popularly known as ‘Manchester of Maharashtra’, is one of the prominent centres of decentralised textile sector in India. In recent years, there has been phenomenal growth of textile industry in Ichalkaranji. In and around Ichalkaranji there are about 35 spinning mills, covering wide range of counts, ply yarns, ring and open-end yarns, and fancy yarns. These units are well equipped with machinery, R&D and product development facilities for quality and better productivity. Many of these spinning mills are 100 per cent export-oriented units. Thus, these spinning mills ensure easy availability of better quality raw material (yarn) required for weaving sector of this area.

Around 9,000 shuttleless weaving machines have been installed in Ichalkaranji. In all, technology selected for shuttleless weaving machines running in and around Ichalkaranji is having 50 per cent, 45 per cent, 5 per cent contribution of rapier, airjet and projectile technology respectively. Shuttleless weaving units also work on three similar kinds of trade systems such as job work from the trader, own set system and manufacture of finished fabrics. Majority of the shuttleless weaving machines are imported from European manufacturers such as Picanol, Nuvo Pignone, Sulzer, Somet, Smit, Vamatex, Dornier, Toyota etc., which includes about 3,000 new showroom shuttleless weaving machines and remaining are second-hand used imported machines, whereas very less number of shuttleless weaving machines are from domestic shuttleless weaving machine manufacturers such as Himson, Laxmi, Alidhara, etc.

In all, 20,000 auto looms including approximate 3,000 of Ruti-C and remaining of Ruti-B and Cimmco-automatic looms are in operation. From the beginning of textile industry in Ichalkaranji, the powerloom industry is running on a small scale basis by the various entrepreneurs. Production of powerlooms was mostly focused on local markets because the technology adopted was quite simple and of low cost. Even today powerlooms are serving to large segment of market where income per capita is minimum.

There are about 160 sizing units, consisting of 250 sizing machines, which include conventional to modern machines and 1.2 lakh powerlooms in this decentralised sector. These powerlooms include plain loom, dobby, drop box, auto and semi auto looms. Such wide range of machines is producing fabrics such as cambric, poplin, dhoti, printed sari, blouse, interlining, shirting, canvas and industrial textile. More than 20 power processes and about 50 hand processing units are fulfilling the needs for the sector.

But, meanwhile, because of increasing quality consciousness, the plain powerlooms were not suitable to fulfil the market requirement. And hence, during 1980s the textile industry of this decentralised area started to shift from obsolete technology to comparatively better technology, i.e., plain powerloom to semi- auto or fully automatic, sophisticated weaving machines.

Automatic looms are used to produce fabrics for school uniforms, made-ups, medium weight industrial fabrics, etc. Even automatic looms were not much able to sustain demands from global textile market. They were satisfying the middle level of textile market demand. Hence, it was high time that entrepreneurs were required to enter into latest shuttleless weaving technology to adjust them with the domestic as well as international market. During this period, the Ministry of Textiles had launched a Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) for textiles and jute industries w.e.f. April 1, 1999 for a period of five years, i.e., up to March 31, 2004, which was subsequently extended and still continued. This TUF scheme along with the other proactive State Government policies promoted entrepreneurs for the induction of state-of-the-art shuttleless weaving technology in and around Ichalkaranji. So, this turned out as a significant step to shift from the powerloom technology level to a substantially higher one such as auto loom/shuttleless technology for such trailing segment of textiles in Ichalkaranji. Similarly, this decentralised area was having a sound knowledge of cotton technology, which could turn into better product mix of shuttleless weaving machines especially for shirting which was not possible for other textile product manufacturers. Hence, the market for shuttleless weaving machine in this decentralised area flourished and thereby many shuttleless weaving machines entered in Ichalkaranji since 2005.

Ichalkaranji was a princely state ruled by the Ghorpade dynasty for the last two centuries. Shrimant Narayanrao Babasaheb Ghorpade was responsible for developing the Ichalkaranji village into an important industrial town. He encouraged Vitthalrao Datar, a young entrepreneur of the town, to install a powerloom in 1904. Perhaps this was the first powerloom started in the decentralised textile industry of the country. Thus, Ichalkaranji has given new concepts and dimensions to the textile field of India by setting up first time powerlooms, sizing unit, Ruti-C unit, shuttleless weaving unit, EOU units, etc.

Before 1980, Ichalkaranji was famous for cotton poplin, dhoti, and cotton saris. In mid-1980s, weavers of the city started producing denim, canvas, chiffon, and fabric for school uniforms (khaki drills). Fabrics such as seersuccer, Oxford, herringbone, ripstop, chambray, tweed, and twill made in and around Ichalkaranji city are used by many domestic and international fashion brands such as Raymond’s of India, Armani, Banana Republic, Hugo Boss, and Paul Smith.

The fabrics (in gray and finished form) produced in Ichalkaranji are in demand at domestic market like Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Bengaluru.

Also, the fabrics are exported in large quantum at the International market.

Today, in Ichalkaranji state-of-the-art beam warping machines, sizing machines and sectional warping machine of Karl Mayer, Benninger, Succer Muller, Jupiter, Prashant Gamatex, etc., are in operation. At present spinning, weaving preparatory and weaving sectors are well grown in this region. Recently, garment industry units have been started with very small scales to complete value addition chain.

Inspite of the process of phenomenal growth of the textile industry which was taking place at Ichalkaranji during the last 34 years there was no educational institute up to 1980, which could cater a industry’s need of technically-trained manpower. The local industry was handicapped due to the dearth of technically-qualified personnel. Different co-op organisations from Ichalkaranji therefore came together under the leadership of KB Awade (Ex. MP) to form educational society in 1981 with a view to start institutes and colleges to cater to education in the field of textiles and engineering so as to provide education facilities in various fields to students of this rural area of western region of the Maharashtra State and also to support the growth of industry by providing technically-qualified professionals.

Therefore, in all these developments of textiles industry taking place in this region, the Dattajirao Kadam Technical Education Society (DKTE) has played a major role. This society has started the Textile & Engineering Institute to cater diploma, degree and post graduate level courses in textiles and other related areas in 1982.

DKTE has conducted about 350 seminars/conferences/workshops to disseminate exhaustive knowledge related with the textile technology, quality control, maintenance, marketing, export–import, etc., for the development of local entrepreneurs since the last 34 years.

DKTE has also provided easy access to local entrepreneurs for any technical information, testing services, library, trouble shooting, turnkey projects, project preparation, project appraisal, etc. In and around 500 DKTE alumni have started their new textile based firm and working in this region after completion of their study. DKTE has provided a platform for local entrepreneurs to interact with domestic as well as international customers by candid participation in organization of buyer-seller meet. DKTE has produced world-class technocrats and business managers to support and grow the textile industry. Similarly, at the same front, textile committee, BTRA Power Loom Service Centre work in this region to improve the quality, operating efficiency and productivity of textile clusters.

Moreover, with a view to provide boost to this second largest industry in India, office of the Textile Commissioner, Government of India has announced different schemes to promote technical textiles in India as a part of Technology Mission for Technical Textiles. Thus, various Centers of Excellence (CoE) in different segments of technical textiles have been created. DKTE has been designated to establish a Center of Excellence (CoE) in Nonwovens and Government of India, Ministry of Textiles has provided Rs 25 crore to setup and establish this very prestigious project of CoE in Nonwovens. The basic objective of CoE is to provide infrastructure and facilities at one place for the convenience of the manufacturers of nonwovens used in technical textiles.

In addition to this, it will establish testing laboratory, process and prototype development facilities, sample bank, training facilities, incubation centres, etc. in the field of nonwovens, incubate new ideas into practical tradable products and also disseminate information through training programmes, workshops, seminars, etc.

Furthermore, textile industry in and around the city was in need of the infrastructure like state-of-the-art common facility centres for pre- and post-weaving processes, marketing centre, etc. so as to manufacture the product of international level. It was not possible to build the infrastructure of such a magnitude through local bodies like industrial estates and municipal corporations, alone. Realising this, the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India had announced grant of Rs 50 crore to develop Ichalkaranji Powerloom Mega Cluster under Modified Comprehensive Powerloom Cluster Development Scheme (MCPCDS). The expected stakeholder’s contribution in this scheme is minimum Rs 33.334 crore. Thus, the total fund available for the implementation of this scheme is minimum Rs 83.334 crore. The Ministry of Textiles, Government of India has selected DKTE’s Textile and Engineering Institute as Cluster Management and Technical Agency (CMTA) for the successful implementation of the Mega Cluster Project. Under the scheme, the work of establishing state-of-the-art common facility centres for sizing unit, chemical processing unit and common marketing centre is in progress which will certainly flourish the textile industry present in and around Ichalkaranji.

The availability of a qualified manpower, technical knowledge and easy accessibility to best weavers of Ichalkaranji for outsourcing were among the factors that influenced Italian textile major Tessitura Monti, Turkish textile maker ‘Soktas’, Bombay Rayon Fashions Ltd (BRFL), Raymond Zambaiti Ltd, world famous German Men’s wear brands Liebe, Boys R Bad and Lootyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichalkaranji - cite_note-12, etc. while planning investment near Ichalkaranji city.

At present, there are four industrial estates, three textile parks and one garment cluster. This has turned in completing the value addition chain in textile manufacturing process at Ichalkaranji. The growth of textile industry in this region is accelerated due to visionary leadership of Prakash Awade (Ex. Textile Minister, Government of Maharashtra).

Therefore, in future Ichalkaranji textile centre will be definitely emerged as one of the prominent centres at national as well as international textile level.

The article is authored by: Prof (Dr) PV Kadole, Director, and Prof (Dr) UJ Patil, Dy Director of the Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, Maharashtra.

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