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Wednesday, Aug 28, 2002

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Pension scheme for indigent artisans revived

Our Bureau

HYDERABAD, Aug. 27

THE Andhra Pradesh Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd (APHDCL) has achieved a turnaround in the past two years, registering an annual turnover of Rs 27 crore and net profit of Rs 21 lakh each in 2000 and 2001.

Following this, the corporation has revived the pension scheme which it had discontinued in 1995 due to financial constraints.

The scheme is meant to help poor craftsmen who have attained the age of 60 and whose income does not exceed Rs 6,000 per annum.

The craftsmen should have exhibited skills in the craft for at least 25 years to be eligible for pension.

According to the APHDCL Managing Director, Dr Hemalatha Devi, under the scheme Rs 500 per month would be given as pension.

Initially, the scheme would cover 250 craftsmen though there are around 2,000 such people in the State.

Efforts would be made to extend the benefit to all eligible persons in future.

An artisan welfare trust was created with 0.5 per cent of turnover of the corporation. Dr Hemalatha Devi told presspersons here on Tuesday that it was also decided to give TA/DA to artisans taking part in the exhibitions organised by the corporations.

APHDC was organising 40-50 exhibitions every year to popularise and market handicrafts. The sales turnover from these exhibitions stood at Rs 4 crore per annum.

Over the past three years, APHDCL had implemented a voluntary retirement scheme and 43 employees had so far opted for it.

The corporation would be organising a crafts mela here during October and November this year when State awards would be presented to the 10 best craftspersons.

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