These are definitely tough times for the artisans and weavers in Andhra and elsewhere. But there is one section of weavers in the East Godavari district who are self sustaining themselves and also posing a threat to leading power looms. They are the only ones who have the expertise to make Malkha. An artistic blend of Malmal (velvet) and Khadi (cotton), Malkha is presently a rage in the upper classes of India and across for its super fine quality.
Also known popularly as the Freedom Fabric, Malkha was introduced to the Pulugurtha Handloom Weavers Corporative Production and Sale Society. The foundation is located at 30 Km from Kakinada. The livelihood of the weavers has been greatly sustained with an increasing demand for the product.
As per the information from the Malkha weavers in the community, a couple can weave 42 metres of fabric in five to seven days for which the remuneration will vary between Rs. 2,680 and Rs. 3,080 based on the product quality. Various kinds of Saris, Dupattas, bedspreads and table cloths are being made here,enabling the yarn making units in the village to churn out a capacity of 35 kg per day. The current output goes up to 10 kg of yarn every day. If the delivery is required in colors, vegetable dies are applied to the yarn, which will then be divided into small reels by the local women. The society allocates the yarn and design to the weaver families, who work on their looms and return the final product to the society.
Weavers say that Malkha saris are the favourite of most national leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banarjee and Pratibha Patil.
As many as 40 weaving families from Pulugurtha, Machavaram, Someswaram and Kutukuluru have been depending on the Malkha for their livelihood by converting their handlooms into Malkha looms and making 1,500 metres to 2,000 metres of fabric a week.