It was a dream come true for the developing hosiery industry of Ludhiana, now world famous for its quality products, when ‘Knitwear facility’, a centre, came into existence in 1981 with the Central funds.
Situated at Focal Point, the building, once pride of the city with world-class hosiery machinery and other facilities, was the ultimate stop for trainees who were imparted training to run machines and also some job works were done by the Punjab State Hosiery and Knitwear Development Corporation.
However, the centre was announced closed in 1998 due to lack of funds. “Central government stopped grants in 1992 when Manmohan Singh was finance minister. At that time, industry suffered a major hit. Another blow came when Punjab government too expressed its inability to run the centre and we were told to close it. The land was taken on lease in 1977 and the building came into existence in 1981,” a source told Newsline.
Now, presenting a picture of utter neglect, the building has been declared ‘unsafe’ by the Punjab Works Development and it has to be demolished very soon. On Friday, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal gave his nod to a multi-skill centre which would be opened on the same premises.
Talking to Newsline, S P Singh Longia, general manager of the corporation, said, “PWD has given it in writing that the building is unsafe and will be demolished soon. The land costs Rs 85 crore at present and as per a note from the deputy commissioner, its building material after demolition will be worth Rs 4.81 crore. The centre ran excellently till 1992 and then both Centre and state governments cited shortage of funds and it was closed. It was the first venture that exposed Ludhiana to world-class hosiery machinery.”
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During a meeting with the industry at Circuit House, the Chief Minister on Friday announced that the centre would impart training to youth through short-term courses. He visited the premises of the defunct centre and assured industrialists of cooperation in the project.
Managing director of Hero Cycles Pankaj Munjal was announced as chairman of committee for upcoming skill centre and the CM directed the committee to implement the project within three months.
He claimed that the entire cost of restructuring and renovating the building would be borne by the state government and the committee comprising eminent industrialists would manage the affairs of the centre.
On the need for providing a separate hostel facility for girls and boys, he asked the industrialists to visit the building and told the district administration to prepare a detailed project report.
He also said that the centre would impart training to 2,000 unemployed youths in around 15 courses in bicycle/ cycle parts, textile, apparel and garments, auto components and hand tools.
The CM talked of industries coming up with more such ventures under corporate social responsibility. He gave certificates to the first batch of trained youth of ‘Hunar’, skill development centre opened by Hero Cycles last year. He also announced a pilot project with Loomba Foundation under which widows from Ludhiana would be given free training and sewing machines to be self-employed.