THE Union government is considering imposing a “dumping duty” on cloth imported from China, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said on Saturday. Irani visited several powerlooms in Bhiwandi in Maharashtra and spoke to workers on Saturday afternoon, promising to revive the once booming industry.
“I know you want more people to source cloth directly from you. Out of Rs 6,000 crore in the current garment policy, Rs 2,000 crore will be allotted to the made-ups sector,” she said at a meeting of powerloom owners.
She added that the government was working on a policy to stem the flow of cheap cloth into India. “I cannot make any announcements about it here but I will move the policy in Parliament. As the Parliament is currently in session, I cannot talk in detail about it,” she said.
However, Irani added that she had planned meetings with the textile councils next week, and promised to also meet industry representatives from the textile towns Bhiwandi, Malegaon, Icchalkaranji and Coimbatore.
BJP MP from Bhiwandi, Kapil Patil, who was part of Irani’s delegation on Saturday added, “The government is working on changing the existing policy where cloth is imported from China and instead impose a dumping duty on imports.”
Powerloom owner Sharadram Sejpal claimed that Irani was the first union textile minister to visit Bhiwandi.
“I showed her around my plant and she inspected machines that have remained shut for the past nine months. We want her to boost exports and stop Chinese cloth,” he said.
He added that Irani also promised to resolve the hike in electricity prices. “I hope she can do something to make electricity affordable to us. Once the bills start coming in, there will be trouble in Bhiwandi,” he said.
Irani also spoke to several employees at the looms. “They told me that they do not have bank accounts. The government plans to open 40,000 bank accounts. Already, forms of 2,000 workers have been submitted to banks. I will speak to the district magistrate and chiefs of all banks to quickly open accounts,” she said. Irani added that once the accounts were opened, the workers would be taught to operate banking services using their phones.
Of the nearly 13 lakh powerlooms in the state, 7 lakh are located in Bhiwandi. An estimated 60 per cent of these are currently lying shut due to demonetisation, according to Purushottam Vanga, Vice Chairman, Powerloom Development & Export Promotion Council.”
“80 per cent of our workforce of 5 lakh comprises migrants and half of them have gone back home because we are unable to pay them. We pay them in cash twice a month, but have not been able to do so last month,” he said. Vanga added that Irani also promised to resolve the crisis of a large quantity of readymade cloth lying unsold in markets due to demonetisation.