GUWAHATI, Aug 06: Union Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani on Sunday announced that weavers will henceforth be able to avail a wide array of government services from Weavers’ Service Centres (WSCs).
While distributing MUDRA loans to women weavers at Chhaygaon outskirts of Guwahati, the Union Minister said that besides providing technical assistance, the WSCs will serve as a one-stop centre for weavers, providing various services, including banking, passport, insurance, PAN card, voter ID and AADHAAR.
The Union Minister added that weavers will also be able to pay their electricity bills and undertake online courses at WSCs.
“There are 28 WSCs under the Office of Development Commissioner (Handlooms), Ministry of Textiles, functioning in various parts of the country. Weavers visit these WSCs frequently, in order to avail technical assistance in relation to their profession. The Ministry of Textiles will enter into an MoU tomorrow with Common Service Centres, which will enable WSCs to provide the aforementioned services, beginning from this year itself,” Irani said.
Recalling the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words that the development of the North Eastern Region is imperative for the development of India, the Minister informed the weavers that the main event of third National Handloom Day will be held in Guwahati.
The Union Minister said that the PM Jan Dhan Yojana has eliminated middlemen and enabled transfer of public money directly to the bank account of deserving citizens.
“Around 25 crore citizens have got their bank accounts opened under PMJDY in last three years,” Irani said.
Noting that seven banks are participating in the camp for distribution of loans, Irani asked the woman weavers how often banks come to them to provide banking services.
The Union Minister expressed her satisfaction that more than 250 women applied for MUDRA loans in just an hour after the camp started functioning.
She informed the 600-odd woman weavers present, that loans ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 10 lakh can be availed under MUDRA Yojana with no requirement for any security whatsoever.
She said that this demonstrates the faith reposed by the Centre in the ability of its citizens to contribute to national development by becoming self-reliant.
The Union Minister highlighted that handloom weavers in Sambalpur, Odisha, were able to improve their earnings by more than 60 per cent within three months of availing MUDRA loan.
Irani distributed MUDRA loan sanction letters to 50 weavers on the occasion, and appealed to all weavers to apply for the loan and improve their incomes.
Noting that loom repair and upgradation is one reason why many weavers apply for loans, the Union Minister informed the weavers that Hathkargha Samvardhan Sahayata Scheme addresses this issue. She said that under this scheme, the Centre assists the weaver by bearing 90 per cent of the cost of new looms; on distributing the scheme certificates, the Minister appealed more weavers to join the scheme so that they do not have to bear the heavy financial burden of buying a new loom.
She said that with E-Dhaga (Dhaga app), subsidy is just a click away for the weavers.
She said that the app, which enables handloom weavers to order and track the shipping of yarn, will be a boon for handloom weavers.
“This would enable them to transact business anytime, anywhere; weavers can send their indents and payments online through this app,” Irani said.
The Union Minister added that on January 4, 2017 the Ministry launched ‘Bunkar Mitra’, the first ever helpline for handloom weavers. Available seven days a week, from 10 AM to 6 PM, the issues faced by weavers are addressed in a time-bound manner through the helpline. She asked every weaver present to note down the helpline number 1800-208-9988 and to use it extensively for their benefit.
Stating that education of children is the primary concern of weavers, the Union Minister informed the weavers that the Ministry of Textiles has entered into MoUs with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) whereby children of weavers shall be able to avail school and university education, with 75 per cent of fees being borne by the Government of India.
Smriti Irani requested the weavers to participate in these schemes of the government and reap their benefits, for a better future for them and their families.
She also reminded them that while many other countries earned their freedom through the sword, India achieved independence through the weapon of non-violence, of which ‘Charkha’ and ‘Suta’ (thread) were defining symbols.
Besides the big gathering of 600-odd woman weavers, Assam Handloom Minister Ranjit Dutta, MLA Pranab Kalita, Development Commissioner (Handlooms), Ministry of Textiles, Shantmanu were also present on the occasion.
The third National Handloom Day will be celebrated across the country on Monday, the main event being in Guwahati.