Centre for Excellence to suggest ways

  • Aim is to train 8,000 women in sewing, designing, dress-making
  • Refresher course to be given to beneficiaries

    Kakinada: Plans are afoot for revival of fashion technology units in the district, which are lying dormant for various reasons for the past few years. The Rs. 23.97-crore Fashion Technology project launched under the Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarajya Yojana during 2001 was aimed at providing training to women of poorer sections in sewing and garments making and help them gain self employment.

    The project neither could achieve the desired results nor be completed within 30 months, the deadline fixed. Of the total outlay, the authorities were not able to utilise even 50 per cent . By engaging the services of experts from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad, as many as 8,000 women were imparted training in sewing, designing and dressmaking for three months.

    Under the scheme, each one, after completion of training, is to be provided with a modern sewing machine costing Rs.20,000 each by extending Rs.7,500 subsidy and Rs.11,500 as bank loan component. As against 8,000 women trained, the authorities had purchased only 2,000 machines and picked up only 2,000 beneficiaries, of whom only 500 could receive them as the others failed to secure bank loans. As a result, the 1,500 machines had to be kept idle in the Fashion technology centres.

    The experience of the 500 women who have got the machines is not a happy one as due to lack of work they have to remain idle most of the time and are not able to pay the loan instalments properly.

    The Mutually Aided Women's Cooperative Society formed with the beneficiaries as members could not secure adequate work or ensure minimum wage to them.

    The `buyers' who engaged the MAC members for making garments for export exploited them by paying meagre sums far below minimum wage.

    Collector's initiative

    This has led to frustration among beneficiaries who handed over the machines unable to repay the bank loan.

    All the 2,000 machines are now gathering dust, making the ambitious scheme a failure. Collector M. Subrahmanyam has given a serious thought to the problem and held discussions with bankers on giving a fresh lease of life to the scheme.

    It was suggested to the bankers to waive the interest on the loans of 500 beneficiaries and the DRDA, on its part, would forego the subsidy portion and transfer the machines to other members.

    "We have found five buyers at Bangalore and are trying to have a tie-up with them.

    The buyers have to ensure minimum wages to beneficiaries and deposit three months wages with the project authorities.

    Authorities hopeful

    "Refresher course training will be given to make the beneficiaries suitable for export oriented garments making," said Ch Kumaraswamy, DRDA project Director, in an interview to The Hindu here on Monday.

    Meanwhile, the Government has appointed the Centre for Excellence, a consulting agency of Hyderabad, to suggest ways and means of reviving the Fashion Technology units and its report is expected by this month-end.

    The authorities are hopeful of re-launching the units preferably in January next.