The state government preferred a Chinese company for distribution of sewing machines over Indian ones at the seventh edition of the annual Garib Kaly-an Mela (GKM). This was as the government found no Indian manufacturer for multi-stitch machines, officials said.
This year, the state government acquired over 28,000 sewing machines from a Chinese company, Feiyue Group located in Jiaojiang, Taizhou, the coast city of Zhejiang province, marking its entry into the GKM. Feiyue, officials say, beat three other bidders including Indian brand Usha International and Rajesh Trading Company from Pune. A fourth bidder, Ramnath Gupta was disqualified as the sample of the sewing machine “did not meet the technical requirement”. The Feiyue machines were distributed between mid-September to end of October across the 127 melas held to cover 10 lakh beneficiaries.
While Indian manufacturers offer similar machines, government claims to have given the contract to Feiyue as it manufactures the ‘multi stitch’ sewing machines. According to officials of Gujarat Rural Industries Marketing Corporation Ltd. (GRIMCO), an arm of the state government’s cottage industries department and the nodal agency for acquiring the items for GKM distribution, they were cleared by the state purchase committee headed by an Additional Chief Secretary of the state.
GRIMCO managing director I K Patel said, “About two years ago, the government decided to give out multi-stitch machines instead of the simple Usha machines to help beneficiaries. There is a specification of the government of Gujarat that Indian machines do not qualify as multi-stitch machines. Even brands like Usha are imported from Taiwan and delivered to the government.” said Patel justifying the Feiyue contract. According to GRIMCO officials, firms who-se first samples meet the quality requirements are chosen. The requirements include ISO gra-de metal casting, motor power of the machine as well as the saffron colour of the body, issued by the state government. Until 2012, the government distributed standard machines, but officials say the amendment of specifications was made since 2013, where suppliers were asked to deliver “saffron” machines, just like the saffron cycles that were distributed to beneficiaries.
Officials say the tender bid placed by Feiyue, through its distributor Mehala, was finalised in the first week of July. Usha International and Rajesh Trading Company have supplied sewing machines in the previous years of the GKM, while Mehala was also the official supplier of its Orbito series in 2013. This year, Mehala is delivering the saffron Feiyue machines, imprinted with the Mela’s logo and packaged in cartons reading ‘Gujarat Sarkar, Garib Kalyan Mela 2014’ and an MRP of Rs 6,500. The list of beneficiary details across the districts too account the cost of sewing machines provided to the beneficiaries at Rs 6,000. However, GRIMCO says the government acquired the consignment at the rate of Rs 4,506 per piece in September.
An email sent by The Indian Express, seeking the response of the group on their Indian ventures in the offing, went unanswered although the website of the company states that, “Officials appreciated Feiyue’s high efficiency and also after-sale service. They said that Gujarat government will further cooperate with Feiyue and jointly make efforts to bring mutual benefits.”
Patel said one of the main reasons that Feiyue was chosen was its ability for mass production. The GKM beneficiaries are decided by four departments of the government which kits worth Rs 1,380 crore to the beneficiaries in the recently concluded mela.