The recent rain has also hit the cottage industries involved in making chalk in Tiruchi.
The industry, which was in dire straits due to increasing price of raw materials, finds itself in the red as there is not enough sunlight for drying chalks.M. Govindaraju, proprietor of a unit at Kondaiyampettai, says the business has been affected since September.
The plates containing chalk pieces need to be dried in sunlight. When I step into the shed to keep some plates to dry, the rain would come. Even if I step out to salvage some chalk trays, rain will break, he says.His unit employs two men who make the chalk and four women who pack them.
The chalk-making business barely makes ends meet for labourers. ‘We get paid a reasonable amount but it is difficult to ask for a raise as the situation is bad,’ says M. Jayanthi, one of the labourers.
On a sunny day, the labourers will fill about 100 wooden trays, with nearly 200 in each tray. The packaging too will be done as soon as chalks dry. These days, we sit and wait for chalks to dry indoors. We have brought a small kerosene stove so that we can make tea and keep warm,’ says Ms. Jayanthi.
Limestone, which Mr. Govindaraju purchases from a dealer near Samayapuram, is also difficult to procure. ‘About a decade ago, we used to purchase as much as five tonnes of limestone powder every month. Now, the procurement has gone down to just around two tonnes,’ he says.A box of chalk, with 100 pieces, costs Rs.10, says Mr. Govindaraju. ‘We sell it to a dealer or supply to a few schools.’ He recently registered his unit as a cottage industry entitling him to receive compensation from the government during monsoon. ‘The amount, however, will not be sufficient for sustenance,’ he says.
(source : The Hindu)