New Delhi: For the first time, an inter-Ministerial panel will be constituted, with a fund of Rs 1,000 crore, to boost R&D and technology transfer in the silk sector, as the government aims to make India self-sufficient in silk production, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said today.
The panel, comprising representatives from related ministries, will be set up under the textile ministry.
It will disburse Rs 1,000 crore for boosting R&D activities. The minister said India will be self reliant in the production of silk by 2020.
"I would like to share with you that for technology transfer alone, around 50,000 people will be trained. To ensure that R&D is not limited to the textile ministry, for the first time an inter-ministerial committee is being set up chaired by the Textile Secretary in which close to Rs 1,000 crore is being provided especially for R&D, technology transfer with the support of other ministries," Irani told reporters at a press conference here.
Besides, the minister informed that an individual-oriented initiative is being introduced under the scheme, whereby 50 per cent cost of infrastructure development related to sericulture will be borne by the Centre.
"If the beneficiary belongs to SC/ST community, 65 per cent cost will be borne, whereas if the beneficiary is from the North-East, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand or Chhattisgarh, the Centre will bear 80 per cent of the cost for infrastructure development, while the individual and state government will bear 10 per cent each," Irani said.
However, she pointed out that out of 27 states, which consume and produce silk, only 17 states till now have a dedicated silk department or directorate. As a part of this Cabinet decision, the government will also make efforts to strengthen the coordination with states, said the minister.
The Union Cabinet yesterday approved "Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry" for sericulture sector with an outlay of Rs 2,161.68 crore for three years ending March 31, 2020.
The scheme is expected to increase the silk production from the level of 30,348 MTs during 2016-17 to 38,500 MTs by end of 2019-20, and will help to increase productive employment from 85 lakhs to 1 crore persons by 2020. Briefing the media about the details of the scheme, Irani said the decision is a historic step towards taking the silk sector forward through an integrated approach and making India self reliant in silk.
The efforts will be dovetailed by the Centre through the Central Silk Board, the minister said, adding that an outcome of the scheme will be 62 per cent rise in the production of bivoltine silk by 2020.
Besides, under a collaborative mechanism, Department of Textile will join hands with Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development to provide farm extension service among farmers with the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendras and expand the scope of its work, Irani said.
She noted that production of high-grade silk in India is expected to rise 66 per cent by 2022 because of initiatives being taken under the scheme. The minister said the government also endeavours to design a web-based solution for boosting seed production, registration process and farm extension service so that the Prime Minister's dream of a Digital India empowers farmers as well.
The subsidy entailed in the scheme will be routed to silk farmers and producers via Direct Benefit Transfer mode. Moreover, a helpline will be set up to address the challenges faced by farmer or the silk sector in a timely manner. The minister observed that special emphasis is being accorded to silk testing facilities towards market development for the yarn and silk sector.
Towards this objective, 21 new cocoon testing centres, 8 silk testing centres will be set up so that the quality of product improves. Irani highlighted that in the Budget, import duty was hiked to 20 per cent to protect the domestic industry and prevent flooding in the country's market.
The customs duty on silk fabrics was doubled from 10 per cent to 20 per cent in the Budget 2018-19. Textiles Secretary Anant Kumar Singh said India's imports of raw silk, which were to the tune of 8,000 metric tonne in 2007-08, have reduced to 3,800 MT in 2016-17, adding that the government's endeavour through the scheme is to bring down the imports of silk to 400 MT in three years and become self-reliant by 2022.
"The basic function of this particular Cabinet decision is to make us self-reliant in terms of production of silk and one of our biggest challenges is that local weavers or other industry affiliates for the silk sector have to depend a lot on imported silk. We are trying to engage the industry in ensuring that we protect them from the onslaught as to dumping of silk," Irani said.