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Now, Odisha is making silk without killing silkworms

The state grows three types of silk, mulberry, tussar and Eri. Of these, Eri silkworms are being reared to create 'Karuna Silk'

A worker weaves a silk saree on a traditional wooden loom
A worker weaves a silk saree on a traditional wooden loom (Utpal Sarkar)

Odisha has adopted a new method where silk is extracted without killing silkworms for making traditional patta sarees, a senior official of the handloom department said.

The new silk is named “Karuna Silk”. As per trade information, a typical mulberry silk saree is produced by killing 10,000-20,000 silkworms. Similarly, in the traditional process, 5,000-7,000 silkworms lose their life in the making of a tussar silk saree.

Handlooms, textiles and handicrafts department director Shovan Krishna Sahu said "Our chief minister naveen Patnaik always promotes the idea of non-violence and desires that all production processes follow the same. So we wanted to promote compassion by breaking the traditional method of 'Filament Silk' which kills the silkworms. In the new process, we let go of the moth honouring its life cycle".

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"When the moth flies away from the cocoon it ruptures the fibre. Through the 'worsted spinning process' we develop the silk fibre ready for dyeing and weaving. This humane process adopted by Odisha is being appreciated in the industry...", explains Sahu.

With “Karuna Silk” blending tradition with technology along with fostering compassion, Odisha is setting a new benchmark in sustainable fashion, the director claimed.

Odisha's new initiative of saving silkworms has been drawing the attention of visitors at the India International Trade Fair (IITF) Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, Sahu said.

Guided by the state government, the skilled weavers from Routpada of Khurda district are demonstrating their artistry live at IITF. The artisans, who make the holy Khandua Patta for Lord Jagannath for generations, are now weaving the same exclusively from 'Karuna Silk'.

“The cruelty-free 'Karuna Silk', a new venture by Odisha, has become the USP at Odisha Pavilion this year. Visitors are taking a keen interest to know about this innovation story of ours,” said Sanjay Kumar Singh, principal secretary information & public relations department.

Odisha grows three types of silk namely mulberry, tussar and Eri. Out of these Eri silkworms are reared in this new method under the brand name of 'Karuna Silk'.

Under the Odisha government's 5T (teamwork, technology, transparency, timely completion leading to transformation) initiative, 'Karuna Silk' was introduced as a pilot programme involving about 700 sericulture farmers. This year the department has been able to expand the initiative to 14 districts with 2,500 silk farmers. The Eri silkworm is nurtured on castor plants, Sahu said.

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