GUWAHATI, Aug 7 - Noting that the handloom industry in the State is not being able to tap the market potential, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today said traditional skill should be blended with modern technology to make a mark in the global competitive market.
Sonowal was addressing the Third National Handloom Day celebration organised centrally at the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra here.
He said the State itself has a textile market of Rs 5,000 crore. �Yet we are unable to capture it. We need to create a separate identity for our products. The government hopes that the new handloom and textile policy, which is being formulated, will go a long way in promoting the State�s traditional industry,� he said.
�People from other countries have shown interest in our products. We need to give priority to the sector,� the CM said.
Guwahati MP Bijoya Chakraborty underlined the need to introduce powerlooms and supply yarns to weavers at subsidised rates.
�This section of people (weavers) will never go looking for jobs. They will continue with the profession. The government also need to announce a pension scheme for them, considering their immense contribution to the State. The government also has to ensure that the products reach every nook and corner of the globe,� she said.
State Textiles Minister Ranjit Dutta said 14 lakh people are associated with the handloom industry in the State. �This is 60 per cent of the total people associated with the industry in the country,� he said, announcing that the stipend given to weavers attending the government training centres would be hiked from Rs 80 to around Rs 200.
While ten yarn banks have been already set up, another ten are on the anvil, he said, adding that these banks would supply yarn to the weavers at 20 per cent subsidy.
Dutta said the government has identified an 80-bigha plot at Baragaon in the city for setting up a National Institute of Fashion Technology. �We have sent the project proposal to the Central government. We are awaiting the go-ahead,� he said.
He also informed that new plantations would be carried out in the muga and eri farms under the Muga Mission. �The Mission will also seek to assist private farmers,� he said.
Union Minister of State for Textiles Ajay Tamta acknowledged the problems faced by the weavers and the versatility of the handloom products of Assam. Saying that the handloom and textile sector provides highest employment after agriculture in the country, Tamta heaped praises on Assamese weavers who constitute 65 per cent of total weavers of the country.
The Union Minister of State also advocated synergy between traditional weaving and modern-day requirements, especially those of foreign countries and said that the Union government�s decision to engage designers in each block handloom cluster would adequately serve that purpose.
Tamta also stated that apart from the projects presently being implemented, another Rs 500-crore project would be implemented in Assam. He also announced that an amount of Rs 600 crore has been sanctioned for promotion of eri and muga silk in Assam.
Union Textiles Secretary Anant Kumar Singh said the Ministry of Textiles today entered into an MoU with Common Service Centres, which would enable weavers� service centres (WSCs) to provide various services under one roof.
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 Minister added that weavers would 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.
Another MoU was also signed today under which each weavers cluster will have access to one designer.
At the function, Chief Minister Sonowal distributed identity cards to weavers through which they will have easy access to different schemes of the ministry.
Union Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani was also scheduled to attend the function, but she had to rush to Gujarat yesterday in view of the Rajya Sabha elections there slated for Tuesday.