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99 Yatra
Kutch women who lost jobs to machines get back to handicraft
19 December 2005

Hundreds of women in Gujarat’s remote Kutch villages, who could not get jobs in lignite mines here following heavy mechanisation, are living their life again, thanks to the age-old handicrafts.

The Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC), which owns lignite mines in the region, is undertaking a handicrafts project in collaboration with Garvi-Gurjari, the state emporium, which will exclusively engage women of the region. The corporation says this new initiative is a part of its community development activities.
The project will be initially implemented in Lakhpat taluka, an erstwhile prosperous port town, as the name suggests, which grew at the mouth of the Indus river until it changed course to flow through Pakistan.

’’The area is drought-prone and there are no employment opportunities in the agricultural sector. So we had to look to handloom and handicrafts, which in itself are a part of tradition of the state. Embroideries on ’cholis’ and ’ghagras’ and on items for decorating houses, such as chaklas, wall hangings, pillow covers, quilts etc, of Kutch have always been appreciated worldwide and can have a good market, GMDC spokesperson Minakshi Joshi said.

’’We have undertaken this exercise to empower women of the region. Due to heavy mechanisation of mining activities, GMDC has almost stopped taking new recruitments in the working class category. Through this initiative we are trying to fulfill our obligation towards the people of the area, where we are operating,’’ the spokesperson told UNI here. She said that a consultant, who was formerly heading the Gurjari unit in Bhuj, will be appointed to oversee the project, which will most probably take off next month.

GMDC will be initially putting in Rs ten lakh in the project, while Gujarat State Handloom Development Corporation Ltd (Garvi) and its Handicrafts counterpart (Gurjari) will be supplying the raw materials and market the finished products, she said.

GMDC has been employing women on its mining project too. They help in loading of mined lignite onto trucks and are also deployed for taking care of the vegetation which is grown on the reclaimed land.The corporation which is a Rs 293-crore enterprise is India’s largest merchant seller of lignite and has set up a lignite-based power plant, which is due to commence commercial power production from March.

UNI MMG RSY MA RN1340 kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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