The industry, mainly established at Katakhal, employs over 5,000 people with a collective annual turnover of over Rs. 3 crore.
“The industry is losing its business due to the lack of infrastructure and technology. Mat weavers are facing various problems and are leaving this work to get back to the agriculture,” said Parshotam Das, a weaver and the trader of Sitalpati mats.
“There are not many opportunities for this work as weavers have to work for over 20 days to make one mat, and are not much paid for the work. Most of the workers are women as men do not want to work for long hours -- they are involved in the cultivation of tea,” said Das.
“Government has started training weavers. Various seminars and training programmes have been organized. The government also takes us to trade fairs being held in various parts of the country to give us exposure and help us enter new markets,” said R.Dubey, a Sitalpati trader.
“But the major problem being faced by workers at present is the lack of automation in this industry. People are not aware of newer techniques of making Sitalpati mats. There are not many opportunities for trade. They are not being paid well for their work,” Dubey said. He wants the state government to help weavers adopt new technologies.