First meeting of the reconstituted All India Handloom Board was held under the chairmanship of Union Minister of Textiles Dr. K S Rao yesterday here in New Delhi. While addressing the members of the board, the Minister said that the Government of India has been following a policy of promoting and encouraging the handloom sector through a number of programmes and schemes.
The Government is committed to help handloom weavers to meet the challenges of globalization and modernization. The initiatives of the Government cover all aspects of production and raw material supply, design and technical assistance, training and skill up-gradation, marketing and welfare so that the weaver gets self-sustainable employment.
The Government has taken a lot of initiatives for the welfare and development of the weavers and Handloom sector. Notable schemes which were initiated in the recent past are revival reform and restructuring package for the Handloom sector aiming to waive the outstanding loans of individual weavers and cooperative societies, to provide concessional credit to the weavers and also to provide 10% yarn subsidy to the Handloom weavers.
In RRR package, so far financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 1019 crore has been approved and the Government of India has released Rs 741 crore. The package has supported around 31 apex, 8805 primary cooperatives, 50,500 individual weavers and 5462 SHGs. The Banks have sanctioned concessional credit around Rs. 325 crore to 1.13 lakh weavers. Further, to provide yarn at subsidized price for the handlooms, the Government of India also announced 10% price subsidy on woolen yarn in addition to the cotton and domestic silk yarn already available, 170 lakh kgs. yarn worth Rs. 500 crores has been supplied during current year till 24th January,2014.
Not only these schemes but the Government so far also sanctioned six mega handloom clusters. Each mega cluster is provided with Rs. 70 crore Government of India fund for the overall development of the weavers. During the XII Plan, Government of India will provide health insurance to the handloom weavers on the pattern of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) of Ministry of Labour and Employment, with enhanced insurance coverage of Rs. 37,500 from Rs. 15,000 per weaver family of five members covering both, OPD and IPD facility. The Government is also providing designers in the clusters to provide design & colour trends, commensurate with the market requirement for both, domestic and international markets so that innovative handloom products with new designs are developed.
The meeting was attended by more than 50 members and they gave various suggestions including more assistance to handloom sector to attract younger generations to this skillful art. The Minister also announced scheme for awarding young weavers.