Centre to set up handloom export zones in Tamil Nadu

Chennai, May 29 | Updated: May 30 2007, 05:30am hrs
The Union commerce ministry is taking steps to set up five `handloom export zones (HEZs) in Tamil Nadu as pilot projects. These HEZs are proposed to be developed in Nagercoil (for terry towels), Virudhunagar (table mats), Kancheepuram (value-addition to handlooms), Thiruvannamalai (table mats) and Nagapattinam (silk furnishings); Jairam Ramesh, Union minister of state for commerce said here on Tuesday. The Tamil Nadu model would be replicated in other states later, he added.

The Centre would offer Rs 60 lakh for each HEZs. The state government would give land and build the necessary infrastructure. The minister said the latest export data on handlooms were for 2003-04, since there has been no separate classification for them in the Customs.

He said the finance ministry would announce a new classification for handlooom exports from the next financial year. Another initiative for handloom export development is the proposal to set up handloom design and development centres in the three most important handloom export centres in the country Karur (Tamil Nadu), Kannur (Kerala) and Panipet (Haryana).

The ministry is also focussing on the marketing of handlooms. It has been proposed to participate in 12 international and four national exhibitions in the current year.

The Swedish company Ikea is the single largest buyer of handlooms from India. The plan is to bring in more large buyers like Walmart to the handloom sector.

The minister said about 6.5 million families were dependent on handlooms in the country. Over 20 handloom clusters were being developed to better the living conditions of weavers.