Thursday, Feb 28, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
The Congress-I and the CPI (M) members grilled the Minister for Handlooms and Textiles, Padala Bhoomanna, for giving unsatisfactory replies to their queries and skirting the issue of suicide by weavers. But the Minister rejected their charge and said it was owing to the continuous negligence of the previous Governments that the weavers had to meet such a fate. In fact their number has come down drastically as they switched over to other fields. It sparked off protests from Congress-I members.
Responding to a spate of supplementaries during question hour, Mr. Bhumanna said the Central Government had launched the Rs. 690 crore Deendayal Upadhyaya scheme for covering handloom weavers who were not in the cooperative fold, with matching grant from the respective State Governments.
The State Government would make use of these funds to help the weavers. It has also taken up a training programme for weavers from Sircilla in the Apparel Park at Gundla Pochampally near Hyderabad.
It has the potential to employing 30,000 people. Plans are afoot to open 15 such parks all over the State.
He said the turnover of the APCO was raised by 140 per cent from Rs. 11 crores last year to Rs. 28 crores now. On the demand for raising the old age pension, he said the Government was actively considering increasing it from Rs. 75 a month to Rs. 250. It had released Rs. 1.50 crores for clearing pending pensions till January.
The leader of the Opposition, Y. S. Rajashekara Reddy, said it was unfortunate that the Minister was claiming credit for raising the turnover of APCO during the last two years, forgetting the fact that the turnover had actually come down to abysmal levels from Rs. 128 crores in 1994-95. In contrast, the Tamil Nadu Apex Cooperative Handloom Weavers Society was able to raise it to Rs. 280 crores this year.
He demanded steps to raise the turnover. The Minister explained that the turnover had come down owing to withdrawal of the Janata saree scheme by the then Congress Government. The CPI (M) floor leader, N. Narasimhaiah, demanded immediate steps to prevent suicides by handloom weavers all over the State.
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