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Bunkar Mitra helpline for handloom weavers starts functioning

Bunkar Mitra helpline started functioning on 4 January 2017. The helpline is meant to extend professional expertise to distressed handloom weavers.
The helpline was launched by the Union Textiles Minister Zubin Irani on 25 December 2016 on the occasion of Good Governance Day.
How the Bunkar Mitra helpline helps handloom weavers?
• This helpline can be accessed by dialing the toll-free number 1800-208-9988.
• The helpline service is available in seven languages. They are Hindi, English, Tamil, Assamese, Kannada, Bengali and Telugu.
• It seeks to address handloom weavers’ queries and grievances free of cost.
• The users can avail this service anywhere from across the country between 10 am and 6 pm.
• The helpline also works as a policy input mechanism for the government on the problems faced by handloom weavers.
• It was designed and operationalised by the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handlooms).
The following 6 services are available through this helpline -
1) Assistance on technical issues
2) Raw material supply
3) Availing credit facility
4) Quality control
5) Access to marketing linkages
6) Information about various schemes and procedure to avail benefits
Status of handloom sector in India
• The Handloom Sector is one of the largest unorganized economic activities after agriculture in India.
• Handloom weaving constitutes one of the richest and most vibrant aspects of the Indian cultural heritage.
• As per 3rd Handlooms Census, more than 43 lakh people are engaged in weaving and allied activities in 2009-10.
• Though the number of handlooms is declining in recent years, the handloom cloth production is more or less constant.
• In recent times, many special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and self-help groups (SHGs) have started exporting handloom products directly.
• Despite its vibrancy, the sector has been facing a lot of problems such as shortage of skilled labour, sufficient credit facilities and low productivity in comparison to power loom and mill sector.

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