Mask-making provides sustenance to KVIB/HDCL unit holders during lockdown

Women stitching face masks at a tailoring unit of KVIB in Doda district.
Women stitching face masks at a tailoring unit of KVIB in Doda district.

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, May 30: At a time when COVID-19 has snatched livelihood of millions of people across the globe, the Department of Industries & Commerce, J&K has ensured that the artisans, workers and beneficiaries of the UT remain on the job and do not suffer the pangs of hunger even during the crisis.
The J&K Government provided employment to thousands of poor people across the UT through J&K State Handloom Development Corporation Limited (HDCL) and Khadi Village Industries Board (KVIB), J&K by asking them to stitch cotton face-masks which are touted as the most important measure to protect against the virus.
In view of the surging demand for these face-masks for the safety of the general public and to provide employment to the beneficiaries, the JK KVIB roped in their cutting and tailoring unit holders for stitching up face masks as laid down specifications at affordable prices.
For instance, Nasreena Begum, Proprietor, Nasreen Cutting and Tailoring Centre at Thathri in district Doda was getting anxious as to how she and her family would survive during the lockdown period as her tailoring unit received no orders from locals. But thanks to KVIB, she started receiving orders for stitching masks from district administration and other Government organizations. Until today, she, along with 20 other women workers, has stitched more than 50,000 face-masks.
“Our business had collapsed as we couldn’t get any material due to lack of transportation during lockdown, but thanks to KVIB we have received orders for supply of masks to Government and, thus, are able to run our day to day affairs.” Nasreena further adds that her unit manufactures almost 1200 masks a day and is hopeful to get more and more orders in the future. She has also received orders for making masks from Army, BSF and other security agencies.
Hundreds of kilometres away, Syed Tabasum, Proprietor, Women’s Gallery, Nowgam, Srinagar had to stop manufacturing jute accessories like executive bags, carry bags, file folders, and is tirelessly working day in and day out to manufacture cotton face-masks following the outbreak of the disease. On an average, she makes around 80 masks a day and her unit comprising of 15 other trained girls produce as many as 800 masks a day. Her unit has produced a staggering 1.5 lakh masks so far.
While her unit is earning sufficiently due to Government’s decision to buy their masks to help them earn under the difficult circumstances, she adds that she doesn’t look at it from business point of view. “I have donated about 20,000 masks to orphanages and destitute who cannot afford masks at all.”
The Department of Industries and Commerce, J&K has manufactured as many as 11.66 lakh masks during the lockdown period by engaging the services of many such artisans. Out of the total, KVIB has manufactured more than 10 lakh face-masks and J&K HDCL has stitched about 1.6 lakh masks during this lockdown period.
“It was a humungous task to achieve the production of over 10 lakh masks in just a short duration,” said Secretary, KVIB, Rashid Ahmad Qadri, adding, the department has manufactured 10 lakh 43 thousand cotton face masks out of which 10 lakh 40 thousand masks have already been distributed.
These people-friendly measures have not only provided employment to thousands of people of the UT but have also augmented mask production in J&K.
“The unit holders of HDCL and KVIB have been able to survive the lockdown due to mask making. They have been able to earn their bread and butter only because of this activity”, said Manoj Dwivedi, Commissioner/ Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department.