Special Correspondent

Udhagamandalam: Everything possible is being done to make the Khadi and Village Industries Board vibrant.

Stating this to press persons here recently, the Minister for Khadi and Village Industries, K. Ramachandran, said that due to a combination of factors, including surplus staff and heavy overhead expenditure, the khadi sector in the State had become sluggish. Pointing out that the main objective of the Khadi and Village Industries Board is to provide employment to the people in the rural areas, he said that a sum of Rs. 20 crore had been sought from nationalised banks to provide working capital to various units of the board.

To a query, he said that there was good demand for khadi items, particularly clothes. As part of the ongoing efforts to revamp the board, it had been decided to auction the accumulated stock of khadi items worth Rs. 9 crore. Lamenting that during the last five years the sale of Khadi products had been halved, he said that a number of value addition measures were being considered to boost sales.

Series of meetings

Various products of the board like soaps, incense sticks and honey would be made available through Public Distribution System outlets. A series of meetings and inspections conducted since the new government assumed office had raised hopes of matters relating to the Board looking up.

Many units of the board which had for long been in a state of neglect would be put to good use. There were now 129 rural textile centres, 27 silk units,19 leather manufacturing units, 24 soap units and seven carpentary centres.

Mr. Ramachandran, who is also the Minister in-charge of the Nilgiris, said that of late things had been looking up on the tea front with the small tea growers getting reasonable prices for their produce.

Among the contributory factors for the upturn was the steps taken by the Executive Director, Tea Board, South India, R.D. Nazeem, to improve the image of the Nilgiris tea. The tea growers must always be quality conscious, he said.