GUWAHATI, Dec 6 � There is good news for the gamocha weavers of the state. The Union Cabinet Sub-Committee on Handloom and Textiles which met in Chennai last month has approved the passing of an Act by the Assam Government to stop the import of gamochas from outside the State.
State Minister for Handloom, Textiles and Sericulture, Smt Pranatee Phukan, talking to The Assam Tribune, said that the green signal from the Centre to pass the Act by the Assam government would help the state weavers economically, besides preserving the culture and traditions of the state.
She said that weavers in the State this year produced 1,14,000 gamochas with the help of a State government grant of Rs 1 crore. �We made a profit of Rs 14 lakh from the scheme. The weavers make the gamochas according to the size measurement and designs given by the Handloom department.�
The State�s handloom sector employs more than 25 lakh weavers and allied workers and is second only to agriculture sector in terms of providing employment. Under the Chief Minister�s Assam Vikash Yojana, we are providing quality yarn to weavers during 2012-13 at a cost of Rs 8 crore. In addition to the SC/ST schemes for weavers, this time we are involving women from tea garden areas in weaving training and making new designs, the Minister said.
Smt Phukan said that silk production in the state is looking up with Assam securing third place in silk production last year in the country, an improvement from fifth place earlier. She said that production of muga raw seeds has increased from 88.71 mt in 2009-10 to 114.25 mt in 2011-12. Similarly, eri seeds production has increased from 819 mt in 2009-10 to 1062 mt in 2011-12, Mulberry raw seeds production has also increased from 8.35 mt in 2009-10 to 11.25 mt in 2011-12, she added.
The Minister said that in a bid to help the silk farmers, a cocoon bank has been opened in Boko, where farmers can deposit their cocoons.
Businessmen can also get their supply from there. �We have fixed the rate of cocoons so that farmers get the benefit and middleman cannot cheat them�, she said.
Smt Phukan said that health insurance is being provided for the weavers under the MG Bunkar Bima Yojana, where 2,54,748 beneficiaries can claim benefits upto Rs 1.5 lakh. Another 16,18,026 weavers have been covered under the ICCI-Lombard health insurance scheme. Weavers have received Rs 15,000 per head under this scheme as medical benefit, she said.
Saying that powerlooms were the need of the hour to revolutionise the handloom sector in the State, Smt Phukan said. �We can do that only when we have adequate supply of power. We have the raw materials. In Sivasagar, we have set up a mega cluster project under Central scheme. Many NGOs are involved in it. The mindset of the women weavers have to change. We have to develop more Sualkuchis�, she said.