[Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Textile Commissioner Kavita Gupta and others before the launch of PowerTex India in Bhiwandi on April 01, 2017 (Photo posted by Smriti Irani on her Twitter handler)]
Malegaon/Bhiwandi: Hundreds of weavers who gathered at over two dozen textile centres across the country on Saturday felt let down after Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani unveiled through video link from Bhiwandi, amid pomp and show, the "New Textile Policy" which later turned out to be mere tweaking of the existing schemes, offering very little to provide immediate relief to the struggling industry.
Yet, Smriti Irani repeated "pehli baar" again and again in her speech and claimed that "Power Tex India, the Comprehensive Scheme for Powerloom Sector Development, launched today will especially benefit small powerloom weavers".
Claiming that "Scheme being launched today fulfills demands put forth by powerloom stakeholders and parliamentarians during consultation meetings", Smriti Irani, who was accompanied by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other senior officials of Ministry of Textiles, asserted that "Bhiwandi will be henceforth known for resurgence in powerloom sector".
The claims by Srmiti Irani notwithstanding, the weavers and stakeholders however think otherwise, with some even feeling pranked and let down.
"The way she had assured us help, we expected that the "New Textile Policy" announced by Smriti Irani today will infuse fresh blood into the ailing textile sector. But the entire event, despite the pomp and show associated with it, was a mere drama", Rasheed Tahir Momin, Chairman of Bhiwandi Powerloom Federation and former MLA, said while talking to ummid.com.
Rashid Tahir Momin was part of the delegation led by Sharad Pawar which met Smriti Irani in New Delhi and also accompanied her when she visited Bhiwandi.
"Moreover, what she unveiled today was not a textile policy as was claimed and highlighted in the press. It was a mere tweaking of the existing schemes, the schemes which are already running without much of the result", he added.
"We are feeling like we all got pranked", he said in a clear reference to Smriti Irani's program coinciding with April 1 - considered world over as Fools' Day.
He said Smriti Irani during her speech delivered today said she had fulfilled all the promises she had made during her visit to Bhiwandi and during the meeting of stakeholders in New Delhi.
"But, the fact is that none of our demands got a mention. These were the demands needed a consideration to bring back to the track the ailing textile industry", he said.
He said the weavers were making impassionate appeals to the government since last two years to abolish anti-dumping duty on synthetic yarn or to impose similar duty on Chinese fabrics being dumped into the Indian market via Malyasia and other SAARC countries, but the government chose not to take any note of this.
"We demanded the capital subsidy under Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) to be increased from the existing 30% to 40%. Perhaps to rub salt on our wounds, the government slashed it down to 10%", he said.
[Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis with Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani during the launch program of PowerTex India on April 1, 2017. (Photo posted by Smriti Irani on her Twitter handler)]
Speaking to ummid.com after the programs got over, Sajid Jalal Seth, a weaver, said they were all disappointed and feeling let down.
"The government has made some amendment in the existing Yarn Bank Scheme. But the scheme in itself is not sufficient to check fluctuation. We expected that the government will announce measures to control yarn prices which currently fluctuate every few hours", he said.
"Demands for uniform electricity tariff is being continuously made with erstwhile as well as this government. When we learnt that the government is announcing "New Textile Policy" today we expected it will also include this point. But the document which we were given today did not even mention it", he said.
Echoing similar concerns, Zahid Ansari Haroon BA said there was nothing new in the scheme which could send positive message in the market.
"Along with fluctuating yarn prices, costing and pricing of our finished goods we get remain a big issue for us. We had expected from the government to come out with some measures like it does in case of agriculture sector to tackle this", he said.
In his comments on the scheme launched today by Smriti Irani, General Secretary of Malegaon Industries & Manufacturers Association (MIMA) said that except for "Solar Energy Scheme for Powerloms" and some changes all the announcements made today were mere extension of the existing and running schemes.
He said though amendments made in the existing schemes would be useful for the new and upcoming textile units, Smriti Irani offered nothing to the existing powerloom units which are in trouble since last two years.
"Smriti Irani was talking about Tex Venture Capital Fund through SIDBI. We had held a series of meetings with SIDBI officials in Mumbai as well as in Malegaon for this scheme. But the conditions they are imposing for the sanction of the fund is difficult to fuffill", Aleem Faizee said.
While welcoming the amendments made in the Group Workshed Scheme and In-Situ Scheme, Aleem Faizee asaid that in the absence of some mechanism to check smooth implementation of the schemes, the schemes would be announced but they would not yeild the desired results.
"We took lot of efforts to implement In-Situ Sheme in Malegaon and upgraded about 106 powerlooms. But after the Maharashtra government refused to release the subsidy amount it promised we could do nothing but stop installation of the upgradation kits", he said.