About 1,000 primary weavers cooperative societies and four lakh handloom weavers in Tamil Nadu are likely to benefit from the new Centrally-sponsored scheme launched in association with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The move will directly impact the Indian handloom sector, the second largest employer in the country after agriculture.

According to Lalitha Venkatesan, Chief General Manager, NABARD, Chennai region, the “Revival, Reform and Restructuring Package for Handloom Sector” will be implemented from the current financial year with a total outlay of Rs.3,884 crore.

The scheme was mooted by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his 2011-12 Budget speech. To be implemented through NABARD, it is likely to benefit 15,000 cooperative societies and three lakh weavers across the country. Funds will be provided for repayment of 100 per cent of principal and 25 per cent interest as on date of loan becoming non-performing asset (NPA), which is overdue as on March 31, 2010 in respect of viable and potentially viable Primary Weavers' Co-operative Societies and Apex Societies.

Also covered are individual handloom weavers, master weavers, self-help groups and joint liability groups who have taken such loans for handloom weaving purposes, provided the banks agree for sanctioning fresh loans.

There would be an overall ceiling of Rs.50,000 per individual beneficiary as far as funding under this scheme is concerned in respect of waiver of overdues of individual handloom weavers.

The Government has further approved an interest subvention of three per cent for three years to be extended from the date of disbursal of the fresh loan extended by banks to the eligible handloom co-operative societies and individual handloom weavers covered under the scheme. Out of the total amount of Rs. 3,884 crore, the share of the Government of India will be Rs. 3,137 crore and that of the States Rs.747 crore.

With specific reference to Tamil Nadu, she said 1,187 primary weavers cooperative societies were in existence in the State as on March 31, 2011. More than six lakh weavers were employed through 4.13 lakh handlooms in the State. Of that 2.28 lakh looms were under the cooperative fold. In total, the scheme would benefit about four lakh weavers in the State.

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