KOZHIKODE: The khadi sector is going through a very difficult patch due to the Covid pandemic as it is burdened with a rebate arrears of Rs 50 crore.
This, even as the government is offering a 30 per cent rebate on khadi on account of the coming Onam festival.
Since 2016, the rebate amount has not been disbursed. Kozhikode Sarvodaya Sangh alone is owed Rs 5.25 crore.
Sales have dropped significantly as shops were unable to open due to lockdown.
Last year, the Onam season, which is regarded as the peak time for businesses, was a washout for the sector.
Though the government allowed shops to function six days a week, khadi sector is not enthused due to several reasons.
Normally, 60 per cent of annual business in the khadi sector takes places during the Onam season. But this time, not even 10 per cent sale has been reported. Last year, the total statewide sale of khadi was only Rs 9 crore, thanks to online platforms, which came in the way during the pandemic.
“The Sarvodaya Sangh has over 1,000 employees. The Sangh has presence in Palakkad, Malappuram and Wayanad districts,” said a member of Kozhikode Sarvodaya Sangh.
There are 64 centres with looms and outlets.He further said, “Even the payment of salaries of employees is in disarray. The total monthly amount required for salary payment will be around Rs 40 lakh. We are unable to pay our staff on time due to the current crisis. Shops in C category areas will be allowed to open only on Fridays while those in D category areas have to remain shut. The shops have to remain closed when there is a demand for Khadi products.”
“During the first wave, there were restrictions, but shops were allowed to open. This time, crisis has worsened. Clearing rebate arrears will bring a huge relief to the khadi sector. A petition was submitted before the chief minister, district collectors and others in this regard, but nothing has come out of it. Apart from clothes, khadi also sells shoes, bakery items, handicrafts and honey. Entrepreneurs who deliver goods are also finding it difficult to do their daily work as they are not allowed to open,” he said.