Koyyalagudem, a village in Andhra Pradesh is known as the weaving village because of its cotton ikats. However, the fame and popularity has come with a cost. Due to the use of highly toxic dyes made with chemical Naphtha, the ground water in the village has become extremely polluted and toxic. Around 200 weavers are dumping dye chemicals every day which are slowly seeping into the groundwater. The consumed water is causing serious health implications and the weaver community is dying a slow death because of their own actions. The reason for this is the sheer lack of awareness, and also capital.Chaitanya Bharathi, a CAF India partner, through its project ‘Natural dyeing unit for handloom weavers’ supported by generous donors wants to revive the use of natural dyes extracted from available natural resources.
One of the weavers, 49 year old Dudyala Shankar, was always keen on using natural dyes for his products. However, he did not have the working capital necessary to dye and weave using natural dyes. The project supported Shankar weave 3 warps of natural dyed sarees that resulted in a monthly income of 9500/-.
“Apart from regular income and good recognition, I am happy that my whole family and neighbourhood are no longer exposed to the toxic chemicals.” – says Shankar.
In the past 6 months, since Shankar started the use of natural dyes, there has been a tremendous improvement in his family’s health. Not a single family member had to visit the hospital once. Shankar has also been able to earn an additional 15% margin for his products.
Shankar’s success and transformation has motivated many other weavers in his village as well as neighbouring villages to seek support from Chaitanya Bharathi. Shankar is now happily imparting his learning from the training received from Chaitanya Bharathi’s Project with other weavers.
The project has made weavers of this small village realize the ill effects of chemicals and the benefits of natural dyes. One of the weavers, during the training said “Natural dyes extracted from local resources bring us close to nature and also contribute to a healthy and safe environment. This is just wonderful”