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Textile hub cheer for weavers

High hopes: A weaver at work in Bhagalpur. Picture by Amit Kumar

Bhagalpur, July 11: A section of weavers in this historic silk city has welcomed the announcement of the Union finance minister’s decision to provide a textile mega cluster here amid doubts over start of operations.

Hinting at the failure of the government to start a proposed mega food park or mega textile park at Bhagalpur despite the previous announcement by the central government, residents raised doubts over the announcements on Thursday.

During Union minister Arun Jaitley’s Union budget, it was announced that six textile mega clusters would be set up, four in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, one at Tamil Nadu and one at Bhagalpur with a Rs 500-crore allocation. The announcement has brought hope among weavers as the proposed cluster would bring in superior infrastructure facilities to develop skills and promote their products.

Mohammad Munna, a silk weaver, said: “People were disappointed as the state government failed to provide land for the mega textile park at Kahalgaon but the mega cluster is different from it. We hope this time it would be different.”

Alim Ansari, a member of Bihar Bunkar Kalyan Samity, a body of the weavers and a silk manufacturers, said: “In 2007, the Union ministry of textile had announced a mega park under the Fifth-Year plan at Bhagalpur and sanctioned Rs 100 crore for it.” Under a public-private partnership mode, it was decided that 60 per cent for the expenditure of the proposed textile park had to be carried out by the entrepreneurs, while the rest would be borne by the ministry. From preparing threads to manufacturing cloth to giving a final touch and even the marketing of the products were supposed to be done from the campus of the park, he added.

The Centre had directed Bihar government to provide nearly some 50 acres of land and the land was allotted for it at Kahalgaon’s Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (Biada). But the state government failed to give possession of the plot to the textile park owing to disputes among local landowners there and Biada.

After failure of the project, some voluntary organisations came forward and opened silk clusters at places like Puraini, Hussainabad, Nathnagar, Mirjafri and others in Bhagalpur. But the clusters failed to benefit weavers. Md. Zabir, a traditional silk weaver, said: “The proposed textile cluster announced in the Union budget on Thursday could change the fate of the age-old traditional silk industry which turned sick since after the communal riots in 1989.”