Over 70 bamboo units that had come up following dreams shown by the National Mission on Bamboo Application (NMBA) but found those dreams shattered, have now expressed similar fears over its new avatar – North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) – with the latter slamming cases against them for failing to repay loans given from the failed mission.
“The government first suddenly shut down the Rs 200-crore NMBA in December 2013 without fixing any accountability to its functionaries. It then constituted NECTAR with practically the same set of people, which has now, instead of extending support to the 70-odd units, started lodging cases against the bamboo entrepreneurs for being defaulters of the now non-existent NMBA’s funds,” Rajib Goswami, president of the Bamboo Industries Association of India (BIAI) said in Guwahati on Thursday.
The BIAI, during its second annual general meeting in Guwahati expressed displeasure over the fact that NMBA had failed in both developing indigenous technology as well as importing suitable ones, and alleged that foreign visits of a section of officials was the only significant thing that had happened to it in its nine years of existence.
“Launched in 2004 with lot of promises, NMBA simply failed to deliver its objectives and ended up as an unaccomplished mission with nobody held accountable for it. While it failed to develop and transfer any worthwhile technology to the entrepreneurs, it also failed to provide any marketing support. While about Rs 100 crore were released to the entrepreneurs, most of these units have either shut down or are on the verge of closure,” Goswami, quoting resolutions passed by the Association said.
“While the entrepreneurs invested more by themselves in comparison to what support NMBA had given, the government suddenly closed down the Rs 200-crore NMBA and declared it as ‘subsumed’ into a newly formed organization called NECTAR in 2013. NECTAR, which comprises mostly of the same set of people, has now started slamming cases against the entrepreneurs who were left in the lurch by NMBA,” Goswami complained.
He said that while NMBA had spent over Rs 100 crore in providing grants for making bamboo houses in different states, only Rs 30.40 crore was released as assistance to the bamboo units, of which more than 50 per cent have been already recovered. “Instead of filing cases against our near-defunct units, the government should convert the remaining amount as grant and engage NECTAR in providing support to revive the units,” he said.
Interestingly, while NMBA was ‘subsumed’ into NECTAR – a registered society with headquarters in Shillong – the latter’s mandate is entirely different from that of NMBA. “While NECTAR has been entrusted with so many activities, it also has a responsibility towards supporting our units. But that has not come through,” Goswami said.
“One of the tasks entrusted to NECTAR is to provide wide-ranging training and technology projects in areas of bamboo applications across the entire value chain from bamboo growth, primary processing to modern applications and products. But this appears to be only on paper,” he said.
The Shillong-based NECTAR meanwhile has started extending support to setting up software defined radios for security, wireless meshnet projects for CCTV surveillance, telemedicine network, self-help groups making agarbatti sticks, and financial assistance to women’s small-scale units, among others. “The original mandate of supporting bamboo-based units has been long forgotten,” Goswami pointed out. (ends)