ANDHRA PRADESH

APCO loses Govt. patronage

KURNOOL Jan. 25. The Andhra Pradesh State Handloom Weavers' Cooperative Society Ltd (APCO) has lost its business orders to private agencies because of the reported preference of Government organisations for the mill cloth on quality ground.

The Zilla Parishad, which procured cloth for its fourth class employees, recently invited tenders. The APCO which was a participant offered materials at prices less than those quoted by private agencies, but the latter bagged the contract. The employees who were given a choice preferred mill cloth on account of superior finishing.

The panel which finalised the deal brushed aside the plea of the APCO which argued that there was a GO, which instructed Government bodies to procure only from the APCO. The APCO lost business worth Rs 6 lakhs.

In a similar way, the AP Residential Schools at Adoni, Gorantla, Nandyal and Srisailam, which bought cloth for students' uniform too preferred materials from private parties. The procuring agencies said they had instructions from superiors to buy the best material available in the market. The schools bought materials worth Rs 5 lakhs.

The APCO circles are sore over the decision of Government agencies. They said quality-wise the handloom cloth was on a par with mill products except the appearance. Now, the APCO was engaging private companies to bleach and give finishing touches to the materials procured from handloom weavers, who had no wherewithal to take up post-weaving process.

Modernisation of looms appears to be only the solution to the unending problems of weavers. The price advantage and attractive finishing of mill cloth affected the sales of handloom fabrics despite its durability. If weavers replaced the existing pit-looms with power looms, they would be in a position to compete with mill products or even supply at less prices.

The CPI(M) leader incharge of Handloom wing of the party, J.N. Seshaiah, said the government must support the weavers by advising its departments to buy from the APCO. He said had the Zilla Parishad and the Residential Schools bought the APCO fabrics, over 10,000 man days of work could have been created for weavers in a year.