The mega handloom cluster to come up in State will help weavers in Prakasam and Guntur districts: Panabaka

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's announcement on Friday to set up two mega handloom clusters in the country, one each in Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand, meets the long-felt need of weavers in Prakasam and Guntur districts, Union Minister of State for Handlooms and Textiles Panabaka Lakshmi said here on Friday.

“The Rs.70-crore cluster to be set up in Bapatla Parliamentary constituency will facilitate holistic and integrated development of the handloom sector and would benefit about 60,000 weavers in the area. “I am happy over the announcement and thank Mr. Mukherjee for that. I have been pursuing the case of weavers of my constituency since getting elected from there'', she told The Hindu.

Giving details of the “Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme (CHCDS)”, she said the scheme, fully funded by the Centre, would help the weavers in all ways -- right from procurement of raw material to realising better price for the goods produced by them.

The scheme would help them by way of technology upgradation, product diversification, raw material bank, credit, market development, forward and backward linkages, human resource and skill development, social security, physical infrastructure, export, margin money for working capital, corpus fund for yarn procurement and supply of dyes and chemicals, she said.

Staff Reporter from Guntur adds: The handloom sector in the district is set to receive a fillip with the proposed establishment of a Mega Handloom Cluster covering Guntur and Prakasam. Guntur district already has major clusters at Cherukupalli, Isukapalli (Repalle) and Mangalagiri each having 300 to 500 handlooms.

These towns have a few big sheds owned by cooperative societies and several small ones at weavers' houses. Except these structures, the weavers have no infrastructure where they could make hand-woven garments.

Common Facility Centres

The Department of Handloom & Textiles (DH&T) has proposals to set up Common Facility Centres (CFCs) in those towns at a maximum cost of 10 lakh. A Mega Handloom Cluster will have provision for larger CFCs with an outlay of Rs. 30 lakh to Rs. 45 lakh, Assistant Director of Handloom and Textiles M. Lakshmu Naidu told The Hindu.

Besides, permanent buildings will come up with funding by both the Central and State Governments. Financial assistance will also be given for setting up large weaving, dyeing and bleaching units. Weavers will be able to avail of bank linkage and subsidised electricity.

The Mega Cluster will offer these benefits to weavers who are struggling to make garments and sell them at profitable prices due to stiff competition from power looms. K. Sambasiva Nagendra Rao, a master weaver of Mangalagiri, said they will get more funds which will help in fine-tuning their skills and in creating new designs.

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