Around 80% of a total of 48 small and large units of glass bangle manufacturing in Hyderabad have been closed as the industry has been experiencing brutal effects of exorbitant gas tariffs coupled with high inflation.
“If the government does not give a significant and instant subsidy to this industry in terms of gas tariff, it will be closed completely and 250,000-300,000 people, who are directly and indirectly associated with it, will be rendered unemployed,” cautioned Hyderabad Glass Bangle Manufacturers Association President Mohammad Saleem Khan while talking to The Express Tribune.
“Glass bangles are made only in Hyderabad where the weather [cool and strong wind] suits this industry, while in India, Ferozabad is suitable for this industry.”
Khan pointed out that before the newly imposed gas tariff, 48 units were working and producing around 50,000 to 100,000 bunches of glass bangles per day, but their production fell substantially and approximately 80% units were shut down because of high gas rates. One bunch carries 24 dozen bangles.
“A small unit, which was receiving monthly gas bill of about Rs1.4 million as per Rs1,200 mmBtu (million British thermal units) till last month (October), will now have to pay around Rs2.8 million as per new rate of Rs2,200 per mmBtu.”
Apart from that, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) takes three-month bills in advance as deposit. “If gas tariff is not decreased, we will not be able to pass on this burden to customers, who cannot afford expensive bangles,” he said.
The association president claimed that the industry was also exporting 35-40% of bangles to Afghanistan and other countries after meeting demand across Pakistan where no glass bangle industry existed except for Hyderabad.
“This limping industry will collapse and poor home-based workers will be deprived of even their meagre wages. Not a single political party has a comprehensive economic plan for this industry or others like textile and garments,” said Home-Based Women Workers Federation General Secretary Zehra Khan.
“A textile industry shut down a unit of its factory a few days back in Karachi and laid off 400 employees. This is a pathetic and sad situation in the business hub, Karachi, these days.”
Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) President Adeel Siddiqui appealed to the caretaker prime minister and federal cabinet to review the decision of gas tariff hike for survival of the industry.
In a statement, he said Hyderabad’s bangle industry “is a traditionally old industry and it is now facing unprecedented closure” due to the whopping rise in gas tariff.
Hyderabad bangles are popular among women throughout Sindh and the country, and when the industry was on the rise, bangles were being exported to countries like Britain, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and other regional countries.
He emphasised that the bangle industry could not be shifted to alternative fuel, adding that Pakistani exporters would soon be out of the international market because the high gas tariff had undermined the industry.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2023.