Jirawala estimates that Surat has 50,000 textile manufacturing facilities. While surviving in such times is difficult, he said, closing businesses continuously would mean losing skilled labourers and eliminating the possibility of reducing work hours.
The industry was on its way to stabilising after the Coronavirus scenario in 2021, according to Kamalvijay Tulsian, promoter of JR Dyeing and Printing Mills, one of the oldest saree manufacturing companies in Surat. However, a sharp decline in cash flows has made things worse for the industry.
“I don’t know what went wrong, whether it was weak exports markets or raw material prices going down. The overall production in the industry is down by about 30%. The industry has decided to reduce weekly working hours to four and five days, but business will further decline during monsoon when many migrant workers will go back to their villages to pursue farming. This will pose a new challenge of finding skilled workers,” said Tulsian, who is also the president of the Pandesara Industrial Association.
People with knowledge of the situation claim that the rise in Chinese imports is one of the key factors causing the crisis. For local manufacturers, it has become challenging to compete with the influx of cheaper textiles from China. Although the Chinese textiles are of lower quality, they are significantly less expensive, which attracts many buyers. According to a textile mill owner in Surat, this has caused a decline in the market for locally produced textiles, which has negatively impacted the Surat textile industry.
The rise in production costs is another element that has fueled the crisis. Raw materials like cotton and silk are now more expensive, and labour is now more expensive as well. As a result, the overall cost of production has increased, making it challenging for the manufacturers to maintain their competitiveness.
Gujarat’s state government and the central government have implemented a number of initiatives, including financial support for the textile industry and the creation of textile parks, to draw in investment. However, the industry has not fully recovered despite these efforts. The sector needs a thorough strategy that takes into account all of the problems it is currently facing.
The proposed textile park in Gujarat will take at least 3 years to come up.
According to Jirawala, who joined the ruling Gujarat BJP last year ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections, the central government’s Textile Upgradation Fund scheme capital which expired in March this year, should be renewed to give a boost to the Surat’s textile sector. He said that the industry has approached the government to clear more than 550 files of factory owners whose applications for government announced subsidies for the sector are pending.