"They provide the raw material and machinery to the weavers and buy their finished products at a cheap price. A weaver spends 15 to 20 days to weave a sari which is bought at Rs 600 or Rs 700 by the middle men and traders and then sold in the showrooms for exorbitant rates," said Lenin Raghuvanshi, founder, People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), an Indian non-governmental organisation that fights for the rights of marginalised people in Varanasi.
Idris Ansari, a seventh generation weaver of Benarasi silk sarees in Varanasi, said clusters are of no use to the real beneficiaries-the weavers. "The middle-men or the gaddidars gobble up all the money and become richer," Ansari said, adding that he cannot afford to buy silk from the government's silk depot which sells it to the handloom weaver. Incidentally, there is only one silk depot in Varanasi and is unable to meet the needs of all the weavers here.