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ICC proposes woollen-based industries in Meghalaya

By Our Reporter

WWA chairperson Nirmal Narula inaugurates the 10-day woollen expo on Saturday. (TM)

 SHILLONG: Winter in Shillong means woollen garments are to be pulled out of cupboards or fresh ones bought from the stores in Khyndailad.

Almost all woollen garments are imported from Ludhiana. Meghalaya and the other North Eastern states are major consumers of woollen fabrics. It’s a sellers’ market as prices are non negotiable.

Considering that woollen products are used nearly the whole year round in many of the hill states the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is contemplating on working with Government towards setting up of woollen-based industries in the State.

Deputy Chief Minister, BM Lanong who was also the chief guest at the ‘Woollen Expo 2011’ organised by the ICC at the All Saint’s Hall on Saturday, pointed out that Meghalaya is only a consumer when it comes to woollen products. He called for a threadbare exercise by all concerned, especially women for whom knitting is a livelihood, to find out ways and means for setting up woollen industries in the State.

“As of now, the State is only a consumer. We are totally dependent on woollen garments from Punjab,” Lanong said during the inaugural function of the Woollen Expo 2011.

The Deputy Chief Minister was of the view that holding of this woollen expo is not enough for promoting woollen industries in Meghalaya and the North East.

He underlined the need to have detailed discussions by policy makers including officials from the Industries Department to see whether woollen industries are feasible for the State.

He also called upon the ICC to chip in by providing valuable suggestions to the Government on how to go about developing this type of industries in the State.

According to the Deputy Chief Minister, the Indian wool industry is an important industry since it is one of the prominent sources of livelihood for rural India and it represents small-, medium and large-scale units.

The Indian woollen industry is relatively small in size when compared to other textiles industries in India, he said while adding that the main wool-producing States in India are Rajasthan, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Uttaranchal.

Lanong informed that Punjab alone accounts for 40 per cent of the woollen units in the country, Haryana 27 per cent and Rajasthan ten per cent. The rest 23 per cent are distributed among the remaining states the Deputy Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile, Editor of The Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim suggested that wool banks be created in the region to ensure steady supply of wool for weavers in the North Eastern region.

“We all know that the region does not produce any wool. We have to depend from outside for the raw materials. Therefore, one of the best possible way to solve this problem is to create a wool bank,” Mukhim said.

She also suggested that a more detailed discussion is necessary to find out if wool production is possible in the region or if there are other ways of producing acrylic fibres since the region is a huge market for woollen products. Mukhim however cautioned that Chinese fabrics are posing a stiff competition in this sector as they are cheaper and therefore more affordable for the masses.

Meanwhile, MIDC managing director H Kyndiah also underlined that the State Government should explore possibilities for setting up woollen industries in the State. “We have the potential to make it big in the woollen industries sector. What is needed is a bit of hand holding by the Government for the local weavers,” Kyndiah said.

Speaking on behalf of the participants, Christy Rutsa from Nagaland highlighted the problems faced by weavers in the region. Besides marketing of finished products, she said that one major problem which the weavers are facing is sourcing the raw materials.

It may be mentioned that Nagaland produces woollen shawls and other garments in large numbers and are the biggest consumer of wool in the region.

The Expo was formally inaugurated by Wives Welfare Association Regional President Nirmal Narula. A total of 50 woollen weavers cum traders from across the North Eastern region including local weavers from the State are participating in the Expo which will continue up to November 21.

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