Don't give us alms, buy our products.' Gajanan Gunjeri's words speak of the crisis that is engulfing the handloom industry in the state.
Gunjeri, who heads Belagavi Zilla Nekara Sanghatana Okkuta, recalls how the authorities first encouraged handloom weavers of Belagavi district to switch over to powerlooms by giving incentives. Many people took out loans to invest in hi-tech machinery but are now unable to repay the loans.
'We are left in the lurch now,' he says, as the stock of sarees and fabric pile up.
Four weavers have died by suicide in Belagavi district over the past year, with Covid-19 piling onto the misery of the community after the floods of 2019.
'The government did not come to our rescue during a time of crisis.