M. Soundariya Preetha

COIMBATORE: For the small-scale textile mills (each 4,000 to 12,000 spindles) in the region, 2005 was a year of growth and more spinning.

Almost all the 650 members of the South India Small Spinners' Association have expanded their capacity by 10 to 15 per cent during the last one year.

The expansion in capacity is supported by the demand in the market and encouraging prices. Further, availability of assistance under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme is also a reason for more units going in for modernisation and expansion, says K.R. Selva Kumar, president of the association.

"With growth in the weaving sector, there is more demand in the domestic market for cotton yarn," says Mr. Selva Kumar.

Apart from the new units coming up, the weaving and garment units have started going in for backward integration. Hence, a large number of mills with 6,000 to 12,000 spindles each have come up in the region.

He points out: "mills are more quality conscious and the focus is on both, quality and quantity."

For instance, a number of the small mills are now going in for even used auto coners that cost about Rs. 45 lakhs to Rs. 50 lakhs each. Similarly, even those who buy second-hand machines prefer those that are less than 10 years old.

Shortage of workforce

However, what is of concern is the shortage in workforce, he adds. "Requirement of hands has gone up proportionately with increase in spindles. Nearly 15 to 20 per cent capacity is not utilised owing to shortage of labour." Almost all the units have programmes to train workers. The association has been conducting programmes to sensitise the units on quality.