HYDERABAD: The city’s unique glass bangle industry is on the verge of complete shutdown as around 25 out of 45 bangle industries have already stopped work over fears of significant raise in gas tariff.

Mohammad Saleem Khan, president of Hyderabad Glass Bangle Manufacturers Association, said: “Though the increased tariff has not yet been notified we have been foretold by Sui Southern Gas Company officers based in Hyderabad that the new rates will be applied from November”.

Gas is primary resource for the bangle industry and any increase in its tariff is likely to affect the entire chain of the business. Glass bangles – both fancy and normal – go through two dozen processes before they are finished and get ready for sale in retail market.

The bangle industry based in Hyderabad’s Sindh Industrial Trading Estate area is dependent on female home-based workers mostly living in katchi abadis of Latifabad and old City area though men are also associated with this work as daily wagers.

The industry, exclusively based in Hyderabad, provides employment to a considerable workforce primarily women who add value to the bangles. These women, however, receive nominal payments for their hard work.

The number of workers engaged in the industry directly or indirectly may run into thousands. “The raise in tariff can seriously affect indirect employment of this potential workforce in these days of high inflation,” said Adeel Siddiqui, president Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI).

According to Saleem Khan, big industrial units which were engaged in manual production of bangles were around a dozen or so while those producing through automated system were also located in large number.

“A smaller unit usually receives around Rs1.4m per month gas bill as we have paid a tariff of Rs1,200MMBTU till October but now we fear it will be doubled and we will be slapped with Rs2.7m per month gas bill,” he said.

“Glass bangles are mostly used by middle class families and any increase in gas tariff will further undermine their buying capacity as well besides causing direct losses to labour and factory owners,” said Saleem.

The bigger units were known as ‘bailan’ units in the industry’s parlance. The increase in gas tariff would reflect on bangles’ manufacturing cost and roughly Rs150 would have to be added to the price of a simpler bunch of bangles having around 300-500 bangles.

The bangle factories produce only the basic structure of the glass rings while the rest of the work on their decoration was performed by women at home and also some men engaged in giving finishing touches to the products.

Until last year these women were getting Rs8 per bunch of 375 bangles for “sadaee”, an initial procedure of manufacturing. Rs19 per bunch were being paid for “jurai (the next stage in the process of joining ends of a bangle by a flame). An entire family works at home to produce required number of bangles’ bunches under a contract.

Saleem observed that bangle industry owners would have to see if the imminent raise in gas tariff would be adjustable in the price of their product. “The main question is that will the market respond to this raise in bangle’s cost and that’s why we fear that it will lead to closure of industry as hefty payment on account of gas tariff will be difficult to bear,” he remarked.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2023

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