By Anand Singh
New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) Even as the coronavirus pandemic halted most of the mail, express and passenger trains from operating across the country, the Indian Railways kept on providing fuel to the Khadi artisans by placing a purchase order worth Rs 49 crore with the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), officials said on Friday.
A KVIC official privy to the development told IANS, “Khadi activities received a major push during 2020 that largely remained affected due to the Covid-19 lockdown.”
He said the railways placed a huge purchase order of Rs 48.90 crore.
While the railways purchased Khadi goods worth Rs 8.48 crore in December 2020 alone, it substantially created employment and income for Khadi artisans during the testing times of Covid-19, the KVIC official added.
The official said the purchase orders from Indian Railways directly benefitted artisans registered with 82 Khadi institutions across the country that are engaged in production of materials such as sheeting cloth, towels, bedsheets, flag banners, sponge clothes, Dosuti Cotton Khadi, bunting clothes etc.
“During the period from May 2020 to December 2020 (till January 21), the Indian Railways procured Khadi material worth Rs 48.90 crore which kept Khadi activities going during the pandemic,” the KVIC official added.
He said that railways purchased goods worth Rs 19.80 crore during May and June 2020 when the economy had taken a severe hit due to the nationwide lockdown.
Similarly the railways procured Khadi goods worth Rs 7.42 crore in July and August 2020 while it purchased Khadi products worth Rs 13.01 crore during October and November 2020, the official added.
Meanwhile, KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena thanked Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for supporting Khadi artisans by giving large orders to KVIC.
“During the pandemic, KVIC faced the biggest challenge of sustaining employment and livelihood of the artisans. While KVIC engaged its artisans in making Khadi masks during the pandemic, it simultaneously received bulk orders from the railways that kept Khadi’s spinning wheel on the move,” Saxena said.
“This meant additional employment and income for the artisans which helped them overcome the financial distress and support the country’s economy,” he added.
The KVIC official said that apart from supporting Khadi through direct purchases, the railways have also implemented policy decisions to strengthen Khadi artisans.
“In one such move, railways have designated 400 railway stations where only earthenware is used for selling food and beverages to passengers and thus a major boost to the potters trained by the KVIC under Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana,” he added.
The official said the Railway ministry is in the process of notifying another 100 railway stations as “plastic-free stations”.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])