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UP town's new identity as COVID-19 hotspot spells doom for Banarasi sari weavers

UP town's new identity as COVID-19 hotspot spells doom for Banarasi sari weavers
(Eds: adding info)

Azamgarh (UP), May 1 () May 1 () Once famous for its Banarasi saris, Uttar Pradesh's Mubarakpur town in its new identity as a coronavirus hotspot has made lives difficult for the weavers and their families living there.

Looms here have been shut since March 22 to check the spread of coronavirus. However, after eight COVID-19 cases were reported from the town, around 20 km from here, it was declared a hotspot and sealed by authorities, a weaver said.

Left with no means to earn a livelihood, thousands of weavers are scraping the bottom of the barrel as their meagre savings have almost exhausted.

"Fights are increasing as people are getting frustrated. Businessmen are taking sarees from us without paying... The businessmen are happy but weavers are not," Javed, a local weaver, said in a video that he recently posted on social media to seek help from the government.

In the 2.45 minute video, Javed complained that the weavers were sitting idle and becoming financially weak with each passing day following which the local MLA approached district magistrate N P Singh for help.

Places where large number of COVID-19 cases are found are being declared as hotspots and completely sealed to check spread of the virus.

According to another weaver, Masood Akhtar, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had put the industry under 'one district, one product' scheme of the state government but due to the coronavirus outbreak, nothing concrete could be done to improve their financial condition.

Taking note of the plight of the weavers, MLA Shah Alam wrote a letter to the district magistrate and sent him a list of 27,000 weavers seeking help for them.

Acting on it, the DM held a meeting with weavers' committees and public representatives and directed that an assistance of Rs 1,000 be given to each weaver according to the list.

"We have met the locals and public representatives. As Mubarakpur area is sealed, we are ensuring the people here do not have any problems and we are giving relief to them," Singh said.

The weavers, however, are still awaiting the help and praying for their condition to improve.

Uttar Pradesh reported 70 fresh coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 2,281. Forty one deaths have so far been reported while the number of active cases is 1,685 and 555 patients have been treated and discharged. CORR ABN SMI RHL

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