One-window approval process, 20-40% subsidy for setting up textile mills, easier pollution norms, reduced power tariff and all facilities nearby to convert “fibre to fashion”– these goodies are the part of the new proposed textile policy of Maharashtra which aims to woo industrialists and entrepreneurs to invest heavily in the sector so that the state can become a textile mega-hub once again.

One-window approval process, 20-40% subsidy for setting up textile mills, easier pollution norms, reduced power tariff and all facilities nearby to convert “fibre to fashion”– these goodies are the part of the new proposed textile policy of Maharashtra which aims to woo industrialists and entrepreneurs to invest heavily in the sector so that the state can become a textile mega-hub once again. The proposed policy has been prepared by the Suresh Halwankar Committee, which had been constituted by the BJP government in November to suggest ways to revive the textile industry to boost the state’s economy. The committee visited eight states to study their textile policies and met several unions and federations to come up with the suggestions. A detailed discussion on the proposed policy would be held at Mantralaya on Wednesday and the final draft would then be submitted to the government for cabinet’s approval. The draft policy states Amravati must be developed as spinning mega hub, Nagpur as knitting hub, Solapur teri towel hub and Ichalkaranji/Bhiwandi for suiting-shirting mega-textile hub and Ichalkaranji-solapur-Malegaon for process park with every hub having a complete set-up of all kind of related facilities. The proposed policy emphasises the need for at least three robust, world-class “design-cum- sampling centres” in every textile cluster, with the government offering 75% subsidy for that. It also talks of a 25% subsidy for setting up skill development centres affiliated to all big industries for offering relevant programmes, whose curriculum must be designed with the help of IITs. Halwankar, an MLA from Ichalkaranji, confirmed the development. “The textile policy of the previous government was junk, lacked long-term vision and comprehensive approach and, thus failed to improve the sector which offers largest employment after the agriculture. The policy neither benefitted industrialists nor the farmers and workers.” Halwankar pointed out that though the state produces huge amount of cotton, farmers are dependent on export as Maharashtra lacks enough spinning mills. “State also lacks enough processing units due to stringent pollution norms and hence a significant amount of fabric goes to other states for finishing and Maharashtra loses the business.” The clusters must have all facilities within to reduce the cost, expedite work and increase healthy competition among the small mills. To make ‘fibre to fashion’ policy succeed, the committee has also asked the government to project ‘Maharashtra beyond Mumbai’ on international stage to attract FDI in textile sector. “Our proposals aim to benefit all including farmers, youngsters, entrepreneurs and industrialists. Even women self-help group from rural areas can set up their garment industry with Rs25 lakh capital for which state can offer 40% subsidy. With banks offering 70% as loan, they would have to spend only Rs4.5 lakh for the project ,” said Halwankar, adding that he hopes to make Maharashtra women compete with those from Bangladesh and other countries. While one may think whether the cash-starved government can offer the subsidies as suggested by the committee, Halwankar claimed, “The government could in fact earn Rs4 lakh/day additional revenue apart from generating 5,000 jobs, if our suggestions are accepted.” Women to be allowed to work in night shifts to improve productionConsidering the industries’ demand of allowing women to work in all three shifts as very important for the growth of the sector which faces acute shortage of labour due to lower wages, Halwankar committee has recommended the same. “We have visited textile mill in Tamil Nadu where 100% staff is women who work in all shifts. Maharashtra must also amend the policy to allow women if it aims to revive the sector and boost up the economy. Though we have to ensure their safety first before amending the rules,” said Halwankar when asked about the rationale behind such a recommendation. Proposals of Halwankar Committee 1) One form, one window to grant all permissions to set up industry 2) Reduced power tariff for textile industry like other states 3) To qualify as textile industry at least 10 employees should be there not 4 as per current norms 4) NOC from MPCB not required for spinning, weaving or knitting mills 5) 0.5% cess in purchase of cotton which could be used for insurance of workers.6) 25% subsidy on conversion of shuttle loom to semi-automatic looms

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Fibre to fashion: Maharashtra textile policy knits a global dream