Eight months have passed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of craft museum and inaugurated the powerloom centre in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi but the construction work on the building for either of them is yet to start.
The Centre’s much-hyped Trade Facilitation Centre and Crafts Museum for the weavers of Varanasi was flagged off by Modi during his first visit to his parliamentary constituency on November 7 with the deadline set as January 2017. While the site still bears the display board informing about the project, nothing besides the dismantled stage prepared for the PM’s visit speaks of the ongoing work.
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Minister of State for Textiles (Independent Charge) Santosh Gangwar had visited the site a few weeks ago for plantation as did Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha, shortly after.
The Centre-appointed Hindustan Steelworks Construction Limited (HSCL), a Government of India undertaking, is the construction agency while National Handloom Development Corporation Ltd (NHDC) remains the implementing agency for the Rs 200-crore project which is coming up on an eight-acre land in Bada Lalpur area.
NHDC deputy general manager, Shamsher Singh Dhakarwal, told The Indian Express that there was “some procedural delay” in the initial stage but HSCL has been directed to complete the bidding process soon and ensure that construction begins by July 15.
“There is a septic tank of CPWD at the site which has to be disconnected from its adjoining residential block. Clearance from UP Forest Department, too, has been obtained for felling of 36 trees at the site. There were some land-related issues but they, too, have been sorted out now. We are hopeful of meeting the deadline,” Dhakarwal said.
He also said that a project monitoring group under Development Commissioner for Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, Alok Kumar, has been constituted. He said the committee is holding meetings “at least four times a week”.
On November 7, the Prime Minister had also inaugurated the Powerloom Service Centre at the same site. In the months since its inauguration, the powerloom centre continues to operate through a workshop at the campus of Indian Institute of Handloom Technology (IIHT) in Varanasi, while it waits for its own building and staff and infrastructure.
The proposed centre, which was due to run three months’ course in two batches with 16 students each, is currently holding only a two-hour workshop for a batch of 10 students.
“Zila Udyog Kendra of the Uttar Pradesh government has assured to provide a 1300 square metre area, which would include a hall and a office for setting up the Powerloom Service Centre in the next few days. Orders have been placed for procurement of machinery to be used in the testing laboratory, shuttle less loom and more computers,” centre manager, Samsuddah Ansari said.
He added that 30 students have already completed their training and the fourth batch is currently under way, even as interviews are set to be held at the Ghaziabad office to appoint other staff.