The weavers and tailors of Narayanpet district in Telangana are being kept busy these days. While the handloom saree weavers are putting their Narayanpet cotton fabric to good use by selling it to Self Help Groups (SHG), these groups are then stitching reusable cloth masks made from handloom cloth. A single-layered mask will cost Rs 15, double-layered Rs 25, triple-layered Rs 40, one made from Pochampally or Narayanpet fabric will cost Rs 50 while a breathe-easy ayurvedic mask for cough and cold will cost Rs 100. All this is being done under the supervision of Hari Chandana Dasari, District Collector and Magistrate of Narayanpet.
Masks in the making
"It was about 15 days ago when the directive came from the central government that everyone needs to wear face masks, that's when we ordered two lakh masks because we wanted to distribute it among any one who cannot afford to buy one, especially the ones who are Below Poverty Line (BPL)," says the IAS officer. And when more and more people started asking for masks, she thought it would be good not only for the safety of people but the livelihood of weavers and SHGs too. It was the officials from District Rural Development Agencies who were involved in training the women tailors to stitch the masks as per the guidelines given by the government. The women were even given machines and cutters as well to work on the masks. Depending on the demand, as many as 650 to 2,000 women tailors are employed to stitch these masks and about 400 weavers sell the exquisite Narayanpet cotton handloom that the district is known for. First, the women purchase the fabric from weavers Rs 45 per metre, which also depends on the quality of the fabric. The women, in turn, are paid Rs 5 per mask they make and they make up to 100 masks a day. "This way, both weavers and tailors are able to earn," she says.
The single-layered masks are specifically for those who feel suffocation when they wear thick masks. And the Pochampally fabric face masks are because, well, they received orders. "The weavers in Narayanpet enthusiastically offered to procure the Pochampally fabric from there as they knew weavers, so they got it for us," informs the IAS officer with a smile.
Those special masks
Coming to the Ayurvedic masks, the district along with Ayush doctors have trained the women to make these special masks. A mixture of tulsi (basil), camphor, ajwain, pudina (mint), clove, all of which have different antioxidants, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, is distilled and stored in glass jars. The fabric is dipped in it, vacuum pulled and later, sprayed on the masks as well. "We are getting many orders for this and it is mainly to help people breathe easier," she says.
Variety of masks