Sheikh Hasina Tantpalli (Sheikh Hasina Handloom Village), the first of its sort in the country, is being constructed in Madaripur and Shariatpur under the initiative of the Bangladesh Handloom Board (BHB) to preserve the traditional weaving industry in the country, which is expected to create huge employment.
The Tk1,911-crore-project aims to improve the quality of life for weavers through employing them, enhancing their skills, improving product quality and marketing, ensuring fair price of products, and supplying weaved garments in domestic and international markets.
In the first phase of the project (July 2018 - June 2022), the district administrations have already acquired 120 acres of land – 60 acres in the Zajira upazila in Shariatpur and 60 acres in the Shibchar upazila in Madaripur. At present, the landfilling is going on for land development which will be followed by infrastructure works in the second phase at Tk307.45 crore.
As many as 8,064 loom sheds will be constructed for 8,064 weavers with an annual production target of about 4.31 crore metres of cloth.
Project Director Jahangir Ali Khan told The Business Standard that land acquisition had been completed. At present, land development and construction of boundary walls are going on. He expects that the work will be completed within the specified period even though there has been some delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the end of current work, a consulting company will come up with a master plan, and the work on the second phase will start as soon as the plan is passed by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
Jahangir Ali further said under the project weavers will be given all kinds of facilities – from weaving cloth to selling those. Besides, there will be residential buildings, weaving sheds, dormitories, rest houses, cyber cafes, and power substations for the weavers.
There are also plans to set up weaving haats (market) two days a week in the loom village for displaying and selling all kinds of raw materials including cotton. Weavers across the country will be organised with the help of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, giving priority to those who are in dire straits, he added.
History and archeological discovery suggest that Bengal was famous in the distant past for her textile production. Cotton was the chief raw material for textile work and it was produced abundantly in Bengal. During the first century AD, Dhaka muslin became famous in Asia and Europe, according to Banglapedia.
Weavers produced many different types of clothes of daily use and most of them were coarse and cheap. The finer clothes are now rare in a weaver's workshop and they survive in the profession by weaving largely the daily wears for the common people.
In the past, the spinning thread for handloom machines was made in the charka (spinning wheel) by means of a spindle. Now that thread is produced abundantly in machines, the charkas have become extinct. The cotton mills have nearly dealt a final blow to the occupation of weaving. Weavers at present produce mainly the coarse and cheap items of day to day use like the bathing towels, men's undergarment for the upper portion of the body, men's long skirts for day to day use, and saris.
The project has already made the locals interested in the handloom village as lots of employment opportunities will be created.
Billah Hossain has recently moved to Shariatpur from Pabna for business. He wants to buy land next to the project site because he believes this area would become a business hub as many businessmen will invest here to expand their businesses after the construction of the handloom village is completed.
Shariatpur Deputy Commissioner Parvez Hasan told The Business Standard that the purpose of the Sheikh Hasina Handloom Village is to preserve the traditional weaving industry of Bangladesh. It will open doors of various possibilities for weavers, locals and investors across the country.