In an endeavour to promote Kashmiri carpet, national apex industry body Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC) has moved a proposal to the Union Textile Ministry for setting up several state-of-the-art facilities in Srinagar.
Chairman CEPC Siddh Nath Singh, who was in Srinagar for an event recently, said CEPC has already moved proposal and Ministry of Textile is likely to approve setting up of Common Facility Centre (CFC), dying unit, Effluent Treatment Plan (ETP) and upgraded design bank for the carpet sector in the Valley in order to boost the local handicraft.
The CEPC support comes at a stage when Kashmir handicrafts, especially carpet industry, have been struggling due to levy of Goods and Services Ta, which has taken a toll on artisans as well.
“CEPC has opened its regional office in the campus of IICT (Indian Institute of Carpet Technology), Srinagar which is fully functional now. Council is fully committed for growth and development of the handmade carpet industry from Jammu & Kashmir,” Singh said.
The chairman assured that he will try his best to organise exhibitions of handmade carpets in Srinagar.
Sanjay Kumar, Executive Director, CEPC who was also in the summer capital said the apex body will help the industry all around for any kind of support “for the growth and development of the carpet sector”. Kumar said among major activities of CEPC to promote handmade carpets includes hand-holding support to exporting communities which are mostly artisans.
“Fairs abroad such as in Germany, USA, China, Hong kong, Russia and Dubai are vital for the carpet export sector. We will be keen to promote participation in these fairs,” Kumar said.
Kumar said organising awareness seminars and workshops by CEPC is another mechanism to promote handmade carpets.
“We are always making efforts for creating infrastructural support for the sector. Providing training to artisans for weaving and design is a major focus area,” Kumar said. He said efforts such as certification of artisans under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Scheme of National Skill Development Council and keeping vigil on issue of child labour is also a priority area for CEPC. Kumar said Kashmir was among the only 6 places within 4 states that is registered for Geographical Indication ( GI) in the carpet sector which must be further provided a boost.
“Conducting market studies and abroad initiatives such as setting up of warehouses in China, Germany, USA and Scandinavian country has helped carpet industry,” Kumar said adding that promotion and branding of handmade carpet must be done as much as possible.
Local carpet industry players who have been at the receiving end since the 2014 floods have welcomed the CEPC efforts. “Last year GST council reduced tax rate on various handicrafts items including handmade carpets from 12 percent to 5 percent which gave us a lot of hope. Now we hope setting up of the facilities in Kashmir will provide a boost to production,” said Farooq Ahmad, an artisan.
Even as carpet weavers are thrilled with efforts of CEPC, they say promises made by the previous government such as formation of clusters in areas where concentration of carpet weavers is large has not been fulfilled. “ There have been recommendations that traditional carpet weaving areas such as Sonawari, various areas in Budgam and carpet weaving localities around Dal Lake in the summer capital would be developed but to no avail,” said an artisan.