The textile legacy in the Bhilwara region is fighting a battle to sustain its existence in the rapidly changing global dynamics. Garima Pant explores the ground reality.
As Chetak Express tugged slowly into the sleepy town of Bhilwara in the wee hours of the morning, it was difficult to ascertain if there was anything unique about this small region with approximately 4.5 lakh population. But as day broke and one crosses across the narrow bylanes, it´s difficult to miss huge complexes that carried monotony not only in its structure but the purpose for which they are used for - textiles. ´There are 27 such office complexes with 100 offices each in Bhilwara city with many more under construction,´ says Prem Garg, Secretary, Bhilwara Textile Trade Federation.
With 80 per cent of its population connected with the textile sector in some form or the other, Bhilwara in Rajasthan, located 165 km away from the hustle bustle of Udaipur, is often referred to as the textile hub of the country with polyester viscose suiting from the region most prominent and popular in the country. Almost 50 per cent of India´s suiting comes from this region that saw textile industry begin in the year 1938, with 70 million metres of pure polyester and polyester viscose being rolled out every year.
Statistics for the region paint an astounding industrial picture. There are 10 industrial areas developed by the Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (Riico) and many large units outside these areas with 671 registered units of a total of 15,734 industrial units in the district. Of these, 75 are large units, with a more than Rs 10 crore investment in plant and machinery, while there are smaller units mushrooming all across the town. Of all the big establishments in the region, it is textile that is the mainstay of the region.
Known for its crop of first generation textile entrepreneurs, risk taking ability and quick adaptation to new technologies has worked for the growth of the textile industry in the region. The quality and cost competitiveness has given the textile manufacturers in the region the impetus to grow their exports. ´We can easily say that one trouser per person in India comes from Bhilwara,´ says SN Modani, Managing Director, Sangam (India) Limited, on a lighter note indicating a further scope of growth in the region and the sector. With textile being second largest industry after agriculture to provide maximum employment, all it requires is a little push from the government. ´With a new regime in place, I believe the Indian textile industry will do better in the next 10 years,´ says Modani.
Sangam (India) Ltd began with a small investment of Rs 50 lakh in 1985 has now got a gross block of Rs 1,200 crore with over 7,000 employees. The Group has managed to clock regular growth and aims to achieve a billion dollar turnover by 2015.
Branded under Sangam Suitings, it is also one of the largest manufacturers of polyester dyed yarns.
´Bhilwara textile industry is most technologically advanced when it comes to weaving and spinning,´ says VK Sodani, Executive Director, Weaving Division, Sangam (India) Limited. But what the region lacks is in the finishing segment that is a major constituent of the textile industry. Processing (dyeing) industry has presence but is in dire needs. Lack of water, sky rocketing capital costs, no permissions for new processing units to come up have been hurting the textile industry in the region. ´We are not getting the requisite environmental and pollution clearances to set up good finishing houses. The Bhilwara textile industry is in dire need of this and can multiply 2-3 times if the finishing houses are set up,´ says
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