ANDHRA PRADESH

More weaver deaths under Congress rule: APCO chief

HYDERABAD, NOV. 29. The APCO Chairman, B. Chandra Nageswara Rao, has alleged that about 200 handloom weavers committed suicide or died of starvation in the last six months under the Congress rule in the State.

Mr. Rao, who was elected to the apex weavers' body during the previous TDP regime, told reporters on Monday that there were 120 deaths of weavers in the six months preceding the advent of the Congress Government as against 200 in the last five to six months.

Mr. Rao said he had made several suggestions to the new Government to prevent the deaths but there were no takers. The Government did not even release the Rs. 225 a month promised as old age pension to weavers by the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Among others, Mr. Rao said he had sought an increase in the budget for the handloom sector from Rs. 50 crores to Rs. 150 crores. He also wanted an immediate release of Rs. 50 crores to APCO to bail out members of weavers' cooperative societies.

Reservation Act

He traced the reasons for weavers' deaths to lack of work owing to non- implementation of Handloom Reservation Act, shortage of hank yarn and inability of APCO to procure produce from primary handlooms weavers' cooperative societies due to operation of cash-and-carry system.

The Act provided for production of 11 varieties of cloth in the handloom sector but most of them were taken over by the powerloom sector. The spinning and weaving mills met only 25 per cent of the demand for hank yarn by the handlooms sector. The cash-and-carry system was a handicap in procurement by APCO since the body did not have money readily, he added.

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