Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani on Saturday said that the government is considering imposing a “dumping duty” on cloth that comes from China. The minister also visited several powerlooms in Bhiwandi in Maharashtra and interacted with the workers. Ensuring the workers about reviving the sector, the minister said that the government was working on a policy to limit the flow of cheap cloth in India. Saying that she cannot make any announcement as yet, she indicated that a policy regarding the issue would soon be made in the Parliament. “As the Parliament is currently in session, I cannot talk in detail about it,” The Indian Express quoted Irani. The minister, while talking about her meeting with the textile councils, scheduled for next week, said she’d also be meeting industry representatives from the textile towns in Bhiwandi, Malegaon, Icchalkaranji and Coimbatore. “I know you want more people to source cloth directly from you. Out of Rs 6,000 crore in the current garment policy, Rs 2,000 crore will be allotted to the made-ups sector,” Irani added.
Kapil Mital, BJP MP from Bhiwandi was a part of minister’s delegation on Saturday. Talking about the hardship workers have to face because of cloth imported from China, he said “The government is working on changing the existing policy where cloth is imported from China and instead impose a dumping duty on imports.”
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One of the powerloom owner, Sharandram Sejapal pointed out that Irani was the first union textile minister to ever visit Bhiwandi. Irani was shown around the plant where she inspected the machines that were shut down due to these problems. Sejpal demanded that the sector sees a boost in exports and Chinese cloth is stopped from entering the country. He said that the minister has also promised to address the issue of hike in electricity prices. Irani also spoke with several workers at the mill and found out that many of them do not yet have a bank account. During her visit she said “…I will speak to the district magistrate and chiefs of all banks to quickly open accounts,” she said. She also said that forms of 2,000 workers has already been submitted to banks and once the bank accounts open, she assured that the workers would be taught to operate the services through smartphones.
According to Purushottam Vanga, Vice Chairman, Powerloom Development & Export Promotion Council, about 60% of the 7 lakh powerlooms are lying shut because of demonetisation. He said 80% of their workforce are migrants and half of them have returned home simply because their payments, which is made in cash, twice a month, could not be made. Vanga also said that the minister has promised to address the issue of decreasing sales of readymade cloth in the market following demonetisation.