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Meet to discuss ways to revive beedi industry

Our Bureau

Of the seven lakh workers dependent on the beedi industry in the State, over four lakh are from Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.

MANGALORE, Nov. 29

THE Beedi Karmikara Hitarakshana Vedike, under the aegis of the Guruvayanakere-based Nagarika Seva Trust, will conduct a one-day State-wide workshop in Mangalore on December 9 to try and find ways to resuscitate the beedi industry.

Speaking to newspersons here today, the organisers of the workshop said that the focus of the deliberations would be primarily on the causes of the decline of the beedi industry, which at one time used to be one of the mainstays of the economy of coastal Karnataka. Stating that the entire industry was now on the verge of extinction, the organisers said that over 350 people involved in the industry, including workers and contractors from all over Karnataka, would participate in the workshop.

Stating that the industry has been hit by a severe crisis over the past four years, the organisers of the workshop also said that of the seven lakh workers dependent on the beedi industry in the State, over four lakh are from Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.

Of these four lakh workers, 97 per cent are women who manage to get work for just two days a week.

Moreover, in the absence of alternative sources of livelihood and in the context of similar crises affecting the agricultural and small industries sector, it is the Government, according to members of the Vedike, which should `protect' the industry.

Tracing the roots of the crisis back to the inequities embedded in the new global economic regime, the Vedike hopes that a uniform wage policy for the industry in all the States of the country would at least prevent migration of capital — one of the reasons, according to the Vedike, why beedi workers in coastal Karnataka have had to go without work for the past few years.

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