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`Promote handlooms in apparel parks'

Our Bureau

Visakhapatnam , April 6

THE Government should take specific steps to reserve 30-40 per cent for handlooms in the several apparel parks coming up in the State, as otherwise there will be no positive impact on the lives of long-suffering weavers, according to Mr G. Jagannadham, Chairman of APCO, the apex co-operative body.

At a press meet here on Wednesday, he said there was a lot of propaganda that the 30 or so apparel parks would bring about a qualitative change in the lives of weavers. "There should be a specific provision for the purpose,'' he demanded.

He said 4 lakh weavers were eking out a livelihood in the State and there were 650 or so primary weavers' co-operative societies. "After agriculture, handlooms provide the highest employment in the rural sector, but unfortunately not much is being done. There is not even separate budgetary allocation for the handloom sector,'' he said. He said the APCO would seek the State and Centre to prepare a special Rs 100-crore package for the weavers in the State. A separate bank (Cheneta Bank) should be set up for them.

``The primary societies owe the district co-operative banks Rs 28 crore, which should be waived. APCO's accumulated loss of Rs 57 crore should also be written off. We shall make these submissions to the high-powered committee on handlooms appointed by the Government,'' he said.

He said the weavers should also be brought under the food-for-work programme and ex-gratia should also be paid to the families of the unfortunate weavers who had ended their lives.

Strict implementation of the handloom reservation order, greater use of handloom cloth in Government department, more financial assistance and social welfare measures for weavers were the other demands, he added.

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