The globally acclaimed Pashmina wool products, which are indigenous to the high altitude regions of Leh-Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, will now be made in Varanasi also. In a path breaking initiative, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has roped in 4 Khadi Institutions from Varanasi & Ghazipur districts in Uttar Pradesh for processing Raw Pashmina wool and weaving it further into woollen fabric. The Pashmina fabric will be woven in Varanasi. This is the first ever attempt to introduce the heritage craft of Pashmina weaving outside J&K and familiarize the artisans in the rest of India with this unique art.
Pashmina weaving in Varanasi will commence from January next year. 20 Khadi artisans from Sewapuri Ashram in Varanasi will be given 30-days training in Pashmina weaving for which 2 master trainers from West Bengal have been roped in by these institutions. These four Khadi Institutions of Varanasi division have started processing of raw Pashmina wool in Delhi. Nearly 200 KG of Pashmina wool processed in Delhi will be supplied to artisans in Leh by the first week of December. These Leh artisans will spin the wool by December-end that will be brought to Varanasi for weaving. The two artisans coming from West Bengal are highly trained in making Muslin which involves ultra-fine weaving which is very much similar to the weaving of Pashmina.
These 4 khadi institutions taking up the Pahmina Production in Varanasi are: Krishak Gramodyog Vikas Sansthan, Varanasi, Shri Mahadev Khadi Gramodyog Sansthan, Ghazipur, Khadi Kambal udyog sansthan, ghazipur and Gram Sewa Ashram, Ghazipur. These KVIC recognized Khadi institutions have started procurement of raw Pashmina wool from Leh-Ladakh and brought it to Delhi on 15th November for processing that is de hearing and converting it into roving. The roving will be sent back to the Khadi artisans in Leh for spinning, who have been provided with 100 new model charkhas by KVIC.
The development comes after a meeting of Chairman KVIC Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena with the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Shri RK Mathur recently where LG informed that around 50 MT raw pashmina is produced in Leh-Ladakh per annum out of which, after cleaning and processing, only 15 MT dehaired wool is actually produced for production of Pashmina wool products. Even in just 15 MT dehaired Pashmina wool, a meagre 500 kg quantity, i.e. 0.5 MT only, is utilized in Leh-Ladakh by a few small units for manufacturing of Pashmina products, which is causing loss of employment in Ladakh.
These Khadi institutions of Varanasi have purchased 500 KG of raw Pashmina wool from Leh recently and brought it to Delhi for processing, i.e. dehairing and conversion into roving. Chairman KVIC, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena said, “this move will not only ensure utilization of entire quality of de-haired Pashmina wool of Ladakh but will also open new job opportunities for local artisans and availability of genuine and affordable Pashmina wool products in Varanasi. KVIC will provide online marketing support also to these khadi institutions. This will be a path-breaking initiative as the production of Pashmina would, for the first time, be done outside the J&K and Leh-Ladakh region.”
The processing of Raw Pashmina wool at Delhi was launched on 20th November by Chairman KVIC. The processed Pashmina wool would be supplied back to the artisans in Leh-Ladakh. The Pashmina Raw Wool Processing Centre in Delhi will ensure round the year supply of pashmina roving to the artisans in Leh-Ladakh where all activities remain suspended for six months owing to extreme cold.
The All Chang Thang Pashmina Growers Marketing Cooperative Society, Leh, from where Khadi Institutions are procuring raw Pashmina wool, has also welcomed the move saying this would support the local artisans of Leh-Ladakh. “We have supplied 500 KG of raw wool to KVIC and any further demand for raw wool will also be met as this would ensure adequate work to the Khadi artisans in Leh-Ladakh and also strengthen the local Pashmina industry,” said Mr Thinlay, Secretary of All Chang Thang Pashmina Growers Marketing Cooperative Society, Leh.
KVIC, after one-month training, provided 100 new model charkhas of 8-spindle to the local artisans in 4 villages of Leh-Ladakh to start the spinning activities of Pashmina wool. These villages are: Likir, Saspol, Shakti and Leh city. These 4 institutions from Varanasi division have adopted the artisans and as a special case, have decided to pay Rs 20 per hank spinning charges. At present, artisans working on traditional charkha in leh-Ladakh can produce only 2-3 hanks of Pashmina wool per day and earn less than Rs 100 per day. But now on the 8-spindle new model charkhas provided by KVIC, artisans will produce up to 15 hanks per day and earn up to Rs 300 per day.
Khadi artisans in Leh who have been provided charkha by KVIC, said this initiative of KVIC would ensure round the year work to us in Leh-Ladakh that would result in higher wages and our financial sustainability.
KVIC has also provided 25 high quality 48 inch width looms in Leh which will not only minimize the effort in weaving for artisans but will also produce all sizes of fabric. KVIC will further deploy more charkhas as soon as the work increases.