Help us survive, Dharavi leather artisans tell state
A share in Dharavi's development and housing policies, provident fund and medical benefits and training in latest technologies are some of the facilities that Dharavi's leather artisans want the state government to give them for survival in a highly competitive market, reveal the findings of a study being conducted by Mumbai University.
"The second-level findings of the study show the kind of transition that has taken place in the leather occupation in Dharavi, where a majority of the artisans are continuing their profession using old technology. They are, however, finding it very difficult to carry on their trade and most fear that in the years to come, their occupation may slip into the hands of new entrants who are well-versed with the latest technologies and have easy access to capital," said professor B V Bhosale from the university's sociology department.
The study titled 'Occupational pursuits of Dalit artisans in Maharashtra' has been sanctioned by the UGC under its University with Potential for Excellence scheme.
It says that the leather artisan industry in Dharavi is estimated to generate a revenue of Rs 2,000 crore annually for Mumbai. "Dharavi's leather artisans produce for the local, national and international markets. Since it is a local industry and contributes significantly to the city's economy, the artisans want the state to take care of them and allocate them percentages in Dharavi's development and housing plans. Further, as their products are sold via middlemen, they rarely make any profits. Hence, another major demand is demarcation of special leather zones or clusters for them where artisans can make and sell products directly to the customers," he said.
The study also reveals that emergence of cheap goods made from artificial leather is a major deterrent to their survival and they want the state to curb and monitor the artificial leather trade.
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