JAMMU: At a time when COVID-19 has snatched livelihood of millions of people across the globe, the Department of Industries & Commerce, J&K has ensured that the artisans, workers and beneficiaries of the UT remain on the job and do not suffer the pangs of hunger even during the crisis.
The J&K government has provided employment to thousands of poor people across the UT through J&K State Handloom Development Corporation Ltd and Khadi Village Industries Board (KVIB), J&K by asking them to stitch cotton face-masks which are touted as the most important measure to protect against the virus.
In view of the surging demand for these face-masks for the safety of the general public and to provide employment to the beneficiaries, the JK KVIB roped in their cutting and tailoring unit holders for stitching up face masks as laid down specifications at affordable prices.
For instance, Nasreena Begum, Proprietor, Nasreen Cutting and Tailoring Centre at Thathri, District Doda was getting anxious as to how she and her family would survive during the lockdown period as her tailoring unit received no orders from locals. But thanks to KVIB, she started receiving orders for stitching masks from district administration and other government organisations. Until today, she, along with 20 other women workers, has stitched more than 50,000 face-masks.
“Our business had collapsed as we couldn’t get any material due to lack of transportation during lockdown, but thanks to KVIB we have received orders for supply of masks to government and, thus, are able to run our day to day affairs.” Nasreena further adds that her unit manufactures almost 1200 masks a day and is hopeful to get more and more orders in the future. She has also received orders for making masks from Army, BSF and other security agencies.
Hundreds of kilometres away, Syed Tabasum, Proprietor, Women’s Gallery, Nowgam, Srinagar had to stop manufacturing jute accessories like executive bags, carry bags, file folders, and is tirelessly working day in and day out to manufacture cotton face-masks following the outbreak of the disease. On average, she makes around 80 masks a day and her unit comprising of 15 other trained girls produce as many as 800 masks a day. Her unit has produced a staggering 1.5 lac masks thus far.
While her unit is earning sufficiently due to government’s decision to buy their masks to help them earn under the difficult circumstances, she adds that she doesn’t look at it from business point of view. “I have donated about 20,000 masks to orphanages and destitute who cannot afford masks at all.”
The Department of Industries and Commerce, J&K has manufactured as many as 11.66 lac masks during the lockdown period by engaging the services of many such artisans. Out of the total, KVIB has manufactured more than 10 lac face-masks and J&K State Handlooms Development Corporation has stitched about 1.6 lac masks during this lockdown period.
“It was a humungous task to achieve the production of over 10 lac masks in just a short duration,” said Secretary, KVIB, Rashid Ahmad Qadri, “The department has manufactured 10 lakh 43 thousand cotton face masks out of which 10 lakh 40 thousand masks have already been distributed.”
He said that the whole exercise was undertaken by the districts under directions from the government to ensure universal usage of masks. The Deputy Commissioners personally supervised the activity, framed district level task forces and placed orders with different self help groups, local tailors, and other such units to ensure every PHH household member gets a mask free of cost within a shortest possible span of time.The distribution was managed through the Panchayati Raj Institutions
He also added that the payment involved in this process has been directly transferred to the accounts of the beneficiaries.
The Department also ensured the issuance of passes in the name of the unit holders so that their work doesn’t suffer in view of the lockdown imposed to combat the raging contagion.
These people-friendly measures have not only provided employment to thousands of people of the UT but has also augmented mask production in J&K.
” The unit holders of Handloom Development Corporation and KVIB have been able to survive the lockdown due to mask making. They have been able to earn their bread and butter only because of this activity” , said Manoj Dwivedi, Commissioner/ Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department.
Needless to mention, the contribution of Rural Self Employment Training Institutes, sponsored by J&K Bank and State Bank of India and working under the aegis of Rural Development Department whose trained candidates have also pitched in and stitched around 95000 masks and handed over to the district administration in Doda, Kishtwar, Samba, Kulgam, Kupwara, Pulwama and Shopian.
Pertinently, mask-making by locals is the best example of the Atmanirbhar Bharat mission, announced recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking the public and government sectors to become self-reliant.