Lockdown Impact: Crushing debt, mounting bills Part-3 of our on-going series based on CJP's Purvanchal fact-finding mission examining the decline of the traditional weaving industry

20, Mar 2021 | CJP Team

In the by-lanes of Purana Gorakhnath locality of Gorakhpur, we came across Shahjehan, who was carrying mounds of yarn on his bicycle. His business has failed, family is in debt and the punishing electricity bills just rub salt into his wounds.

“I am taking this yarn to be put on spindles, so that we can use it on powerlooms,” Shahjehan tells us. “It is a cotton-roto mix, we use the thread to manufacture bedsheets,” he says. Shahjehan owns two powerlooms, but the father of seven is now struggling in wake of the lockdown and the subsequent economic misery.

CJP ran a #CJPagainstHunger effort from March-July 2020 to help people during the Covid-19 induced lockdown. Determined to deepen associations with communities like Migrant Workers, Women led Urban Poor Households, and Urban Daily-Wage earners, we launched campaigns like #MigrantDiaries and #LetMigrantsWork. CJP also launched the #CJPfellowships to empower myriad marginalised communities. The Purvanchal Weaving Industry Fact-finding initiative aims to produce a report that will become a powerful analytical and advocacy tool further leading to programmatic grassroot initiatives to battle discrimination and division. Please Donate Now to help CJP reach more such communities across India.

“Business has come to a standstill. I can only run my business if my client pays me, but he can’t because he is making no sales,” says Shahjehan. His children have also been rendered unemployed. “I am deep in debt. I used to borrow Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 depending on the need. So far, I have borrowed a total of Rs 35,000 from my relatives and the Mahajan (local money lender). I fear I might now be able to repay my debts,” he says.

Shahjehan’s list of woes is long, “The Mahajan (local money lender) will no longer lend to me, there’s barely enough to eat, we make about Rs 200 in a day and the electricity bill keeps mounting!”


He says he has a ration card and has been getting some free grains from the government, but no monetary assistance. For water, he has a borewell installed in his home. His biggest concern though is paying his electricity bill. “Whether or not I have enough work to put both my powerlooms to use, I have to pay electricity charges,” says Shahjehan.

The spectre of business failure looming large, Shahjehan’s last resort is bleak for a resident of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s former constituency. “If no more work comes, we will be forced to take up ‘mazdoori’ (daily-wage manual labour),” says Shahjehan resigned to his fate.


How Purvanchal’s traditional weaving industry came undone

How this weaver was forced to run a tea shop


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