While the Central government had recently reduced GST rate on Bhavani Jamakkalam (handloom carpet) from 12% to 5%, weavers here urged the government to exempt the product completely to save the business. Bhavani Jamakkalam, which was recognized as a Geographical Indication by the Government of India in 2005, is produced in handloom units in Bhavani and Anthiyur in Erode district. “Earlier, handloom products including Bhavani Jamakkalam were never taxed and they could be produced with the support of subsidies given by the state government. But the Central government brought the carpets under GST with a rate of 12%,” said secretary of the Bhavani Taluk Jamakkalam Blanket Weavers and Dyeing Workers Union-AITUC V Siddhaiyyan.
“The business has going down to untenable low because of multiple reasons including lower jobworking rates, entry of powerloom carpets, closure of many dyeing units-due to pollution issues and implementation of GST. A decade ago, about 20,000 families were into this business, but only 6,000 are doing it now,” he said. “As per the handloom (Reservation of Article for Production) Act, 1985, 11 handloom products, including Bhavani Jamakkalam, should be produced only in handlooms, so that such businesses could be safeguarded. But Jamakkalam made in powerloom units are fraudulently being sold as if they are made by handloom weavers. Such products are available in the market only for half of the price. But enforcement officers, who seemed to have colluded with the violators, have failed to take any action,” Siddhaiyyan said. “The GST has affected the business badly. Reducing GST rate from 12% to 5% will not help the weavers much. Hence, the product should be exempted completely from GST, and much needed support should be given for its survival,” he added.