Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurated the Sukhnag Sozni Embroidery SFURTI Heritage Cluster of J&K Khadi and Village Industries Board today at Magam, Budgam.
The Lt Governor said this SFURTI Cluster will deliver a holistic approach towards development of Sozni craft from production to marketing stage while catering needs of at least 500 artisans.
The Government has taken various steps to make handicraft sector more competitive, boost exports and give a fillip to village industries, a repository of creative tradition. We are determined to ensure capacity building, foster innovation, best in class infrastructure, easy access to credit and market, the Lt Governor said.
We have implemented policies to ensure that the artisans get an opportunity to showcase their products at national and international expo and receives better price for their products, the Lt Governor said.
The Lt Governor observed that the ‘Vocal for Local’ initiative has exposed J&K’s cultural and artistic heritage to the world.
“Handicraft sector faced many challenges due to Covid but it certainly has the potential to take UT’s economic growth to a higher trajectory and to provide employment to a large pool of our youth,” he said.
The Lt Governor emphasized that the creativity of all the craft-artists will be more productive in future with Government’s focused investment in skill development, modern technology, innovative business practices which will directly contribute to the increased earnings of craftsmen.
Highlighting the role of artisans who represent the rich traditions, customs and cultures, the Lt Governor made a special mention of Sh Bashir Ahmed Bhat, an award winning artisan from Beerwah, who had been doing notable Sozni embroidery work.
On the occasion, the Lt Governor also awarded certificates to Artisans and Entrepreneurs for their outstanding performance under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program (PMEGP).
The Lt Governor said that under the PMEGP scheme, Khadi Village Industries Board’s achievement last year was five times more than the target. Financial support was extended to 5851 units against the target of 1008 units and more than 47 thousand people were directly provided with employment.
In all the schemes of the Handicrafts sector, we have tried to directly facilitate and provide hand holding to women and marginalized families. Out of the 12,000 units that have been installed in the last two years, 4000 units are being run by women and 1000 units belong to marginalized sections, he further added.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the clusters being created under the Scheme of Funds for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) will focus on maximum participation of women. Around Rs 24 crore is being spent in setting up all these clusters which will help in better production and marketing of rural products.
On the occasion, the Lt Governor assured all possible support in the form of financial assistance, skill development, capacity building, etc. to the youth who are inclined to start any entrepreneurial activity related to the handicrafts sector.
The Lt Governor observed that the Industries Department has also started the Export Incentive Scheme in which an incentive of 10% is being given on the total volume of GI-certified products in order to promote the export of handicraft products.
The Lt Governor also mentioned the QR code launched for the world famous carpets of Kashmir, besides several important steps taken for GI certification, testing, labeling and training to promote Kashmiri carpets. A project on innovative and economical packaging of handicraft products has also been completed in association with NIFT Srinagar to expand the reach of niche handicraft products.
The Lt Governor asked the concerned departments to continuously review all the schemes launched for the benefit of weavers and handicrafts. The Khadi and Village Industries and Handicrafts Department to work together on innovative marketing strategy to ensure better prices for J&K crafts, he added.
The Lt Governor reiterated administration’s resolve to provide facilities like better market linkages for handicraft products, maximum employment opportunities, door-step financial assistance, design support, skill development, capacity building of clusters without any hassle.
The Lt Governor urged that the people must work for peace which is imperative for development.
The society should not get trapped into the nefarious conspiracy of the enemies and their handlers. All they intend is to push J&K back into the dark phase of violence, he further added.
On being apprised about the issue of promoting Homestays in Budgam, the Lt Governor said that issue would be taken up with the concerned quarters for appropriate action.
The Lt Governor also visited handloom stalls at Kanihama village and interacted with artisans.
Nazir Ahmad Khan, DDC Chairman Budgam, expressed gratitude to the Lt Governor led UT Government for taking dedicated measures for the welfare of the people.
Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary, said that the people of J&K are witnessing the positive change happening in every sector and congratulated the KVIB for making headways in the promotion of traditional arts & crafts.
The Chief Secretary also reiterated the government’s commitment to double the income of artisans and craftsmen in coming future, besides providing necessary handholding to the budding entrepreneurs. He further articulated that KVIB should give all the support to the artisans to showcase their products to wider consumers.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Hina Shafi Bhat, Vice-Chairperson, J&K KVIB said that the establishment of the Sozni Cluster is one among many steps the board is taking for the promotion of arts and crafts.
She further said that the traditional art & craft clusters like Sozni would be established throughout J&K to provide sustained employment for artisans and rural entrepreneurs.
Highlighting the achievements made under Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme, Dr Hina Bhat informed that in the last three years, 35,185 units established under PMEGP. Rs 747 cr Subsidy and Rs 2200 cr Bank Loan has been released, besides 2,80,000 livelihood opportunities were generated from these units.
Vivek Bhardwaj, Financial Commissioner (Additional Chief Secretary) Finance Department, while speaking on the occasion, highlighted the initiatives taken by the government for the welfare of artisans and craftsmen.
He said that the main aim of the newly established facility is to boost the local traditional industries activity.
HoDs of various departments; PRI members; prominent citizens from all walks of life, besides artisans, craftsmen and entrepreneurs were present on the occasion in large number.