State Planning Commission vice-chairman Prabhat Patnaik has called for more effective interventions by the Union Government in traditional sectors such as coir.

Inaugurating a seminar on ‘The Golden Yarn of God’s Own Country: Possibilities and Challenges’ at the Coir Fest 2010 here on Sunday, Mr. Patnaik said workers in the coir sector, particularly the spinning segment, were facing a crisis for a long time without getting even statutory minimum wages. Most of them were earning less than what was being given as wages in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

The causes for this were that the value realization on coir products was too low, with barely Rs.100 coming in for each worker. Even the distribution of this amount was not proportionate. If production was increased with enhancement of productivity by mechanization, several workers would be displaced and they would not get jobs elsewhere, he said, terming this as the tragedy of the development strategy for the sector.

Raising value realization and ensuring better distribution of the realized value among those dependent on it. And more effective interventions by the Centre was essential for this, not just in the coir sector, but across all traditional sectors. However, neo-liberal policies were witnessing the Centre imposing excise duty on the traditional sector and reducing whatever support there was to the sector.

On the other hand, though the capacity of the State Government to make effective interventions was limited, the State Government was doing whatever was possible staying within its limits. The income support scheme announced in the current budget was an example, Mr. Patnaik said, adding that the Government would continue to do all that was in its realm to ensure a certain minimum amount of subsistence wage to the traditional sectors.

CITU State president K.N. Ravindranath, Federation of Indian Coir Exporters’ Associations chairman Mathew Joseph, State Coir Corporation chairman G. Venugopal, Coir Board Secretary M. Kumara Raja, Coir Development Department director K. Madanan, C.M. Kamaraj of Shakti Fibres, Coimbatore and others spoke.