VIJAYAWADA: Extending a helping hand to handloom weavers in distress due to the coronavirus crisis and lockdown in Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Saturday released the promised annual aid of Rs 24,000 for each weaver’s family six months ahead of schedule. A total of Rs 194.46 crores was released to 81,024 weavers owning their own looms.
Addressing the handloom weavers' representatives in the district through a video conference, the Chief Minister said financial aid is being paid in advance to help the weavers who are facing problems during the pandemic.
“I launched Nethanna Nestham on December 21, my birthday, last year, and thought of releasing the aid for the second time on the same day. But, seeing the problems and losses suffered by handloom weavers during the COVID-19 crisis, we decided to advance the release of the aid,” he explained.
Jagan said during the COVID-19 crisis, markets across the country did not open and there was no transport. Further, the cost of raw materials has increased and weavers have to struggle against the new emerging technologies, he pointed out.
“In fact, I have observed their problems closely during my 3,648 km padayatra. Uppada, Tippa Samduram, Mangalaigir, Vekatagiri, Dharmavaram, Madhavaram, Pondhur, Pedana, Chirala, Jammalamadugu, Madanapalli and more -- all are famous for their own designs and unique varieties of handlooms - but all of them face a common problem - lack of marketing facilities, increasing raw material cost. They are unable to even earn Rs 300-400 per day. I promised to provide Rs 24,000 per year to every weaver owning looms and Nethanna Nestham scheme was launched,” he elaborated.
He announced that the government has decided to create an e-marketing platform for handicrafts and handlooms and it will be launched on October 2 this year. Apart from handloom weavers, artifacts crafted by craftsmen of Etikoppaka, Kondapalli, Budithi, Kalamkari and puppets will be marketed online.
“To ensure its effectiveness, we have to cross three bridges - quality issues, logistic problems, payment gateways. We are working on it and on October 2, the platform will be launched,” he said.
The Chief Minister said when he saw how much was spent by the previous TDP regime for five years, he was shocked to find it to be less than Rs 200 crore.
“In 13 months since our government has formed, we spent nearly Rs 600 crore including the aid being released today. Rs 103 crore was spent to clear outstanding dues to APCO in the previous regime. Another Rs 109 crore was spent as payment for cloth procured from handloom weavers societies through APCO for making coronavirus face masks, which were stitched by SHGs," he explained.
Expressing satisfaction over being able to help the weavers in distress with blessings of God, he pointed out various welfare initiatives like Rythu Bharosa, Amma Vodi, enhanced pensions, and said as promised house sites will be distributed to beneficiaries on July 8.
As much as Rs 43,000 crore was credited to 3.89 crore people under Direct Benefit Transfers to their accounts in an unbiased manner without scope for any corruption. He said as on today, 81,024 families have benefited from YSR Nethanna Nestham and if anyone is left out, they could avail the scheme by next month on the same day. They have to apply now and it will be cross verified by the village volunteers.
“Anyone can approach the government through toll-free number 1902 and their problems will be redressed,” he said and sought suggestions from weavers to further improve the programme.
Minister for Handlooms and Textiles Mekapati Gautham Reddy and others were present.