Poor artisan from Khag area of Budgam district, Bashir Ahmad Malik, had to shut down his small centre at Drang where poor earned their livelihood through needle work or chain stitch.
Bashir is among thousands of artisans who also wanted to reap the benefit of the scheme floated by then chief minister Omar Abdullah. But now he has to repay the amount along with the interest to JK Bank branch at Khag every month which remains a daunting task for a poor villager like him.
"I had to close down the centre and now I am working as labour in Srinagar. I have three daughters about whom I am worried in case anything happens to me," he said, adding in city he works to pay the interest as bank officials knocked at the door of his single storey house seeking payment of the loan. "My appeal to them that I too suffered in floods in Srinagar fell on deaf ears with the result i again had to borrow money from lender in Srinagar to repay loan at Khag branch," he said.
Marginalized artisans like him are now worried lot as the government continues to withhold Rs 28 crore liabilities under the Artisan Credit Card (ACC) scheme, thus leaving them distressed.
In total 27,000 marginalized artisans of the state have been deprived of interest subvention as previous Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress government faced liabilities of Rs 40 crore to lender bank.
Although Governor N N Vohra recently directed state administration to release Rs 10 crore interest subsidy to lender bank but the Artisans Rehabilitation Forum is not all that happy. ParvezBhat, president of the Forum said instead of releasing token amounts to clear the liabilities, the state administration should bring ACC at par with the Kisan Credit Card (KCC).
"There should be an entire one time loan waiver in the ACC at par with Kisan Credit Card on which a waive off is given on interest subvention," Bhat said.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Mushtaq A Shah, Assistant Director, Handicraft Department said 'the lacuna in the system is non-disbursement of interest subsidy on time'.
He said the interest subsidy has accumulated 'in proportion and quantum'.
Sheikh Ashiq, an exporter and former president Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) said efforts of Governer to release Rs 10 crore interest subsidy is a welcome step but 'too little too late'.
Pertinently, in order to bring down mounting liabilities of Rs 40 crore last year, PDP-BJP dispensation paid almost Rs 3 crore but artisans had denounced this move.
"The artisans at present has to shell out full interest from his pocket since no interest subsidy from the department is being received by the artisans. A huge inventory of handicrafts is piled up which is adding to the woes of artisans," Ashiq said.
Prior to the launch of ACC in 2012, the artisans used to avail the Handicraft Micro Enterprise Scheme (HMES) but soon much anticipated ACC proved to be a dampner.
"In HMES the artisans used to pay 7 percent interest while Handicraft department used to shell out 5 per cent interest. The interest subsidy in HMES used to be for loans for five years with a loan amount of Rs 50,000. Comparatively the loan amount in ACC increased to Rs 1 lakh and interest subvention became 10 per cent but non-disbursement of interest subsidy on time proved the ACC to be a damp squib," said Bashir Ahmad.