A day after launching a postcard campaign, Telangana handlooms and textiles minister K.T. Rama Rao on Sunday started an online petition appealing the union government to remove Goods and Services Tax (GST) on handloom products in order to safeguard the lives of weavers and protect India’s cultural heritage.
KTR, as the minister is popularly known, stated in the petition that India is home to almost 5 million handloom workers who produce unique products without the aid of mechanical energy. The highly decentralized and rural-based handloom industry mostly has women in its workforce.
KTR, who is working president of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on Saturday wrote a postcard addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to roll back 5 per cent GST on handloom products.
Tweeting about the petition, he requested everyone to sign it and share it with their friends and family. He appealed to people to join hands for the noble cause.
“GST on handlooms is a direct threat to the millions of people who earn their livelihoods in the handloom sector. Weavers across the country unanimously oppose taxes on handloom since it had resulted in huge losses, forcing many to turn away from the traditional craft,” he tweeted.
The minister said that the handloom sector is one of the largest unorganised sectors and forms an integral part of rural and semi-rural livelihood.
“The handloom sector in India is reeling under the impact of the Covid pandemic and any move to increase the tax will sound the death knell for the sector,” he stated, adding that handloom weaving represents one of the richest and most vibrant aspects of the Indian cultural heritage. He said that this is the first government to levy GST on handlooms since independence.