Ponduru is located about 100 km from port city of Visakhapatnam in Srikakulam district. Since 1949, weaver families belonging to backward Padmasali and Devanga communities have been spinning Ponduru Khadi sarees, dhotis and wrap-around panches.
Andhra Fine Khadi Karmikabhivruddi Sangham (AFKKS), affiliated to Mumbai-based Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), manages the weaving and marketing activities of Ponduru Khadi. AFKKS feels digitalisation of this world-famous khadi and minimum Rs 2 crore capital investment into Ponduru small-scale industry could help boost production of this unique garment both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Weavers use a single spindle for spinning the fabric. The price of a handmade fine variety saree starts from Rs 10,000 as does a men’s ‘panche’.
In the run-up to National Handloom Day being celebrated on Saturday, August 7, Deccan Chronicle interacted with Ponduru Khadi weavers. One among them, J. Srinivasa Rao sees the big picture saying, “The government has taken steps of digitalising heritage structures and museums. Similar steps are needed to digitalise every activity of our Ponduru Khadi industry.”
Then there is Basava Kanthamma, one of 1,100 spinners, who says, “We are able to earn maximum Rs 150–200 a day for spinning threads from raw cotton. We will feel encouraged if our daily wages are hiked.”
Fabrics at Ponduru village are spun using a special variety of indigenous Red and Hill cotton, mostly brought from Nimmalavalasa village in Laveru mandal of Srikakulam district.
AFKKS secretary D. Venkata Ramana says, “Our products are world famous with a Rs 5 crore turnover. But proper government support in terms of advertising at national and global levels will broaden their reach. We want an exclusive website, official Twitter and Facebook handles to run our products. We also need capital investment from government to encourage weavers and spinners into continuing making this product. Unfortunately, however, the number of Ponduru Khadi weavers has reduced from 500 to 100 in past 30 years due to lack of support,” he pointed out.
Venkata Ramana maintains that they are receiving orders from the US and UK and locally from Hyderabad, Bangalore and Delhi through word-of-mouth publicity. They courier the orders; however, it will be great to have an official digital platform to promote and market the product.
As part of their endeavour to project Ponduru Khadi, Ramana told DC, they have invited union minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Ponduru for celebrating the National Handloom Day in Ponduru on Saturday.
Srikakulam MP Kinjarapu Ram Mohan Naidu said he has requested the centre to accord Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Pondur Khadi and take steps for setting up a Pondur Village Khadi Textile Park in Srikakulam for promoting handloom industries on a large scale.
Nirmala Sitharaman to be in Ponduru for National Handloom Day
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will participate in National Handloom Day celebrations at Ponduru in Srikakulam district on Saturday, August 7.
She will honour handloom weavers and highlight India’s handloom industry and government’s plans for this sector on the occasion. Srikakulam district administration has set up a special exhibition with 58 stalls and 20 live demonstrations of world-famous Ponduru Khadi weaving as part of the celebrations.