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Aug 20, 2008

Textile Minister Review

Minister for Backward Classes, Handlooms and Textiles K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran (second left) speaking at a review meeting at the Coimbatore Collectorate on Tuesday. Free saris and dhotis to be distributed to the poor during the Pongal will be ready by November, Minister for Backward Classes, Handlooms and Textiles K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran said on Tuesday. They would reach Revenue Department officials by December 15, so that the distribution may begin on January 1, he said.

Mr. Ramachandran, together with Rural Industries and Animal Husbandry Minister Pongalur N. Palanisamy, Secretary, Handlooms and Textiles, Viswanath Shegoankar, Director of Handlooms, R. Jaya and Collector V. Palanikumar, held talks with the powerloom owners and workers on the strike over wage increase. He also reviewed the progress in the production of free saris and dhotis. He said arrangements had been made for producing 1,59,44,000 saris and 1,58,79,000 dhotis. The Co-optex had been asked to release funds for the wages to be disbursed by the cooperative societies. The societies had been directed to ensure quality. While the quality of yarn was being tested at two points, the saris and dhotis would be checked at three points.

As of now, nearly 40 lakh saris and dhotis were ready. The yarn bags, saris and dhotis were being affixed with the government emblem to prevent their diversion to the open market. Of the 18 cooperative spinning mills, only five were functioning and the rest had been closed down, Mr. Ramachandran said. A committee of experts was being constituted for identifying the mills that could be revived immediately. He ruled out the possibility of selling any of them. As for the order for increasing the wages of employees of the spinning mills, the Minister said the Finance Department’s clearance was awaited.

The Minister and Mr. Shegoankar said handloom production was going up by 10 per cent every year. Of the goods worth Rs. 2,500 crore produced every year, goods worth nearly Rs. 900 crore were being exported. This included Rs. 300 crore of exports done directly by the societies. To enhance patronage for the societies, the showrooms were being modernised; attempts were being made to locate them in prime commercial areas. This year, 15 showrooms would be modernised.

On the powerloom workers’ strike in Coimbatore, Mr. Ramachandran said two-three rounds of talks had been completed. The employees demand wage increase, while the owners point to the steep rise in the prices of raw materials. He said the Chief Minister wanted an early end to the strike. Within a few days, an amicable solution would be found.

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