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Regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Unpaid and angry, weavers rip apart Jharcraft

Allegations tally with the serious financial anomalies pointed out by the CAG in its report

Achintya Ganguly Ranchi Published 29.01.19, 06:36 PM
Coordinator of Jharkhand Bunkar Seva Sangh Junaid Alam (second from left) and others at the news meet in Ranchi on Tuesday.

Coordinator of Jharkhand Bunkar Seva Sangh Junaid Alam (second from left) and others at the news meet in Ranchi on Tuesday. Picture by Manob Chowdhary

As many as 3,000 weavers have told the government to either clear their dues for blankets woven for state-run Jharcraft by February 15 or face mass protests, including hunger strike and self-immolation, in yet another blow to the discredited brand that not too long ago was touted as one of Jharkhand’s biggest success stories.

There’s seriously something wrong with this government, a state-level weavers’ outfit leader at the forefront of the protest told the media in Ranchi on Tuesday, adding Jharcraft had given yarn to societies and self-help groups for blankets in the past one-and-a-half years, most of which were not collected and no weaver was paid.

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These allegations largely correspond with serious financial anomalies that the CAG report that placed in the Assembly in December 2018, had pointed out.

There are 63 cooperative societies and self-help groups whose 3,000 members were engaged in weaving over a lakh blankets in the past 18 months, coordinator of Jharkhand Bunkar Seva Sangh Junaid Alam said. He added Jharcraft had to pay an outstanding amount of around Rs 3 crore. Individually, a single weaver stands to get at least Rs 10,000.

“If weavers’ dues are not cleared by February 15, we will go on a hunger strike for 10 days either in front of Raj Bhavan or Jharcraft and will finally opt for self-immolation if even our strike fails to evoke response,” Alam told reporters at Rahmania Musafirkhana on Main Road.

The CAG report had stated that Jharcraft officials made a fraudulent payment of Rs 18.41 crore against fictitious records relating to the cost of woollen yarn, wages, finishing and transportation of 8.89 lakh blankets.

Alam’s allegations refer to over a lakh of those blankets.

“There’s something seriously wrong with the government,” Alam alleged, adding weavers in various districts, including Godda, Sahebganj, Ramgarh, Latehar and Palamau, had been given yarn last year for weaving about one lakh blankets. Most finished products were never collected. “Blankets that could have been distributed among the poor this winter were not even collected from the weavers,” he alleged.

“We had woven about 50,000 blankets for which about Rs 10 lakh fallen due,” Abid Hussain, who is associated with Hariharganj Bunkar Samiti of Palamau district, said on the sidelines of the news meet.

Alam further said that the state government, despite its assurances that it would promote weavers, had been neglecting them.

Jharcraft had procured yarn for Rs 70 lakh to give them to weavers for making saris for anganwadi workers, he said. The job was however entrusted to a big textile firm and the yarn procured allowed to rot, he alleged.

Contacted, Jharcraft’s newly appointed MD Deepankar Panda admitted that weavers had not been paid but added that this matter was not in his hands right now.

“Ranchi divisional commissioner’s office is making an inquiry into the matter of blankets in the wake of the CAG report,” Panda said. “As inquiry is still on, the state government has not released funds to pay the weavers,” he said.

On Alam’s second allegation that many blankets were not collected from weavers’ for distribution among the poor across districts as a part of social welfare schemes, Panda said, “I am new and am not aware of this. But I will look into the matter.”

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