In the face of growing competitiveness in the textile industry both in the national and international markets and the free trade opportunities emerging in the post MFA environment, a growing need has been felt for adopting a focused yet flexible and holistic approach in the sector to facilitate handloom weavers to meet the challenges of a
globalized environment. A need has also been felt to empower weavers to chart out a sustainable path for growth and diversification in line with the emerging market trends. The Integrated Handlooms Cluster Development Programme is an attempt to facilitate the sustainable development of handloom weavers located in identified clusters into a cohesive, self managing and competitive socio-economic unit. Government of India Ministry of Textiles Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms has started handloom cluster development programme. The Directorate of Textiles, Govt. of West Bengal has been implementing in the State.
The Clusters at Samudragarh, Burdwan and Santipur Nadia have been setup under this schemes.
The main objectives of this Scheme are as follows:
To empower handloom weavers and build their capacity to meet the challenges of the market and global competition in a sustainable and self reliant manner;
To facilitate collectivization of handloom weavers and service providers for procurement, production, marketing and other support activities to promote sustainable growth and diversification;
To provide for common infrastructure and activities in a viable format in the cluster.
To provide for development of handloom clusters in an inclusive and holistic manner in an environment of empowered and participative decision making;
To encourage convergence of schematic assistance and support services from various schemes and programmes of various government and other agencies in the cluster to optimize resource utilization for betterment of the livelihood and quality of life of handloom weavers.
DEFINITION OF CLUSTER:
In the context of Integrated Handloom Cluster Development Scheme, the handloom cluster may be defined as a place where there is a large concentration of handlooms producing fabrics of niche varieties on Handlooms which are in demand in the market. These handlooms could be located in close proximity in two adjoining revenue sub-divisions within an administrative district or across two (mostly adjoining) districts. In certain smaller States, where the districts are of smaller size, the number of sub-divisions may be increased to ensure the minimum critical size of the cluster. It may be mentioned that in the North Eastern States, it has been 2 found in the Census that the majority of looms are not used for commercial purposes.
SELECTION OF CLUSTERS:
Selection of clusters will be on the basis of their uniqueness of design and product, capacity to cater to a niche market as well as resilience to survive in a fiercely competitive environment. In the first phase, the scheme will be implemented in the 20 identified handloom clusters, spread all over the country and to be finalized by the nodal agency i.e. Development Commissioner for Handlooms. Each cluster must have a minimum of 5000 looms.
ELIGIBLE COMPONENTS/ ACTIVITIES
The cluster development programme will address the requirements of the cluster in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. The diagnostic study will indicate what type of assistance is required to be given in that particular cluster. Some of the components could be as follows.
Assistance for setting up of Dyeing Unit, Common facility Centre, Quality Control Lab & Setting up of Showroom. (One time assistance)
Organization/participation in Exhibitions/Fairs
Organization/participation in Buyer-Seller Meets, including inviting retailers & Merchandisers etc.
Assistance for publicity (printing of brochures, catalogues, documentation of samples etc.), Developing frequently asked questionnaires etc (one time assistance)
Assistance for declaring the Cluster as Legal entity, it's capacity building & networking, strengthening of local associations, backward - forward linkages, Brand Building etc. (Assistance for 3 years)
Assistance for organization of at least 20 workshops and seminars, demonstrations etc. in 3 years (Assistance for 3 years)
Market Research & Technical Consultancy- for studying the market & technical advice
(one time assistance)
Engaging Designer for design input for diversification of products
(Assistance for 3 years)
Institutional cost of implementing agency, including Enterprise up-gradation programme, cluster visits, development of consortium, personal counseling, intervention in the areas of occupational health/ergonomics etc. (Assistance for 3 years)
(This includes components for one time assistance & assistance for 1 year to 4 years)
Fee for National Resource Agency for_________ handloom cluster
There may be other type of assistance required in the cluster which would be covered if there is a felt need. The total assistance under this scheme will be Rs. 2.00 crore per cluster.
DC (HL) shall be the nodal agency as far as the cluster scheme is concerned. The Nodal agency shall be responsible for holding and disbursement of funds to the identified Implementing Agencies( IAs) and overall monitoring of the project under the supervision of the Apex Committee. The Nodal Agency & Apex Committee will be assisted by the National Resource Agency.
The Nodal agency will identify the implementing agencies (IA) which shall be institutions of the Central and State Governments, semi-Government institutions, NABARD, EDI, NHDC and non-government
organizations (NGOs) with suitable expertise and experience to undertake a scheme of this nature and enter into contractual arrangements with such agencies to implement the scheme in the selected clusters. The duties of the Implementing Agencies will be to-
Identify the cluster development agent (CDA).
Interact with the National Resource Agency for training of the CDA
Prepare a project on the basis of diagnostic study conducted by the CDA specifying inter-alia annual action plans clearly indicating the requirement of the cluster, activities and expected outputs and submit the proposal to the nodal agency for its approval.
Implement the project mentioned above within the time limit as also carry out functions as year-marked in Annexure 'B'.
Cluster Development Agent (CDA):
It is estimated that in order to cover 20 clusters under the scheme, several Implementing agencies will be necessary. Each such Implementing agency shall identify and support a Cluster Development Agent (CDA) exclusively for each cluster, who shall be located in the cluster full time and responsible for implementation of the scheme in the assigned cluster in consultation with the NRA. His responsibilities shall include conducting the diagnostic study, preparation and implementation of cluster action plan, promoting linkages with institutions, building the local governance framework, etc.
The CDA shall undergo prescribed training in cluster development methodology to be organized by the Nodal agency through NRA. With the objective of involving the cluster level stakeholders in the process of cluster development and supporting the activities of the CDA, a Cluster Development Coordination Group (CDCG) could be formed at the cluster level, of which the representatives of the targeted traditional Handloom enterprises, export units support service institutions, NABARD, Banks, State Government Agencies and others could be members.
The diagnostic report will be the critical document for evaluating the quantum of assistance. The diagnostic report should cover the expected coverage, the scope of project activities, techno-economic feasibility, and sources of funds for share of capital cost and recurring expenses, managerial structure and the fair benefit sharing mechanism and other necessary information. The project report should be supported by primary data, survey, and feasibility studies etc. In particular, convergence with assistance available under other scheme of Handloom sector or other Ministries/departments and linkages with other service providers such as Research Institutions etc should be disclosed. It should also specify the outcome of the proposed interventions.
National Resource Agency
Since the cluster-based approach is at the core of this scheme, and as the NA does not have the requisite expertise and experience related to cluster development methodology the Scheme provides for the Apex Committee engaging a reputed National Resource Agency (NRA) with expertise in cluster development methodology, to provide technical support to the NAs and the IAs. The responsibilities of such NRA shall include assisting the NAs in identification of clusters, conducting training of CDAs and other officials of the NA, validation of cluster action plans and monitoring and evaluation.. The Apex Committee will identify and engage the National Resource Agency ( NRA). With the help of the NRA, NA will identity the Implementing Agencies (IAs) for each cluster and enter into contracts with them, with the approval of the Apex Committee. The IAs, after signing the contracts, will identity and appoint the CDAs and send them for training
organized by the NRA. Based on the training inputs, the CDAs will conduct the diagnostic studies in the clusters and, using their findings, prepare annual action plans, clearly indicating the activities and expected outputs, which will be validated by the Cluster Development Co-ordination Group (CDCG). The IA, based on such annual action plan, will project the requirement of funds to the NA. On receipt of such requisition along with the cluster action plans, the NA will get them examined/ validated by the NRA. The project proposal, thereafter, will be placed before the Apex Committee consisting of the following:
Representative of NABARD
FA, Ministry of Textiles
Representative of Planning Commission
Managing Director, NHDC
The role of the Apex Committee is, therefore, to provide overall strategic directions to the project, approve the projects, budgets and action plan submitted by the implementing agencies, periodical review and monitoring of the progress made by various cluster-developing agencies etc.
After the approval of the Apex Committee, funds would be released to the IAs in
installments as mentioned hereafter. The implementation of activities will start immediately on approval of the project. The above-mentioned sequence is illustrative and some of the stages can be telescoped, depending on the situation.
ROLE OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT
The State Government will make necessary provision for allotment of land free of cost/subsidized cost to the cluster for construction of common facility center /dye center etc. The State Government will also provide legal entity to the consortium to be developed by the cluster. It should also be the endeavor of the State Government to converge assistance available under various schemes of the State Government with that of the IHCD Scheme so as to optimize the flow of benefits to the weavers.
DURATION OF THE PROJECT
The time frame for completion of the cluster project is 4 years.
RELEASE OF FUNDS
Central assistance will be released in annual installments to the Implementing agency. The devolution of funds to the Cluster Development Agency will be in three
installments of 25%, 50% and 25% based on quarterly plans of work, progress of activities, submission of utilization certificates and other terms, if any, specified in the project.
The administrative charges, which would include fee of both NRA as well as IA will not exceed 7% of the project cost.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
The Development Commissioner for Handlooms will monitor the implementation of the projects, with the assistance of NRA and independent evaluating agencies, if required. A system of periodic reporting, field visits and review meetings will be used for this purpose.
Duties of National Resource Agency
Support Apex Committee/ Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms in selection of Implementing Agency for 20 identified clusters in the country.
Training of Cluster Development Executives, for augmenting cluster development initiatives identified by the Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms.
Provide effective monitoring, mentoring and advisory (technical, management, need based) services for the development of 20 Handloom clusters at different locations.
Carry out documentation of 'best practices' in clusters that can foster demonstration effect in others.
Review quarterly the progress, identify the support to be provided, prepare time frame of actions and seek necessary approval from the Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms wherever necessary.
Convene periodic meetings in close co-ordination with the Apex Committee at National level to appraise progress, seek approval and inputs if need be for technical, design development and other such issues deemed fit.
Initiate an interactive forum for Cluster Development Executives (CDEs), Associations, Business Development Service (BDS) providers, other stakeholders, implementing agencies and support organizations by means of news letter, brochure etc.
Sensitize policy makers about the requirements of Handloom clusters in close co-ordination with the Apex Committee at the National level.
Ensure submission of reports, audited statement, action plan from the Implementing Agencies from time to time and submit the same back to Apex Committee for necessary perusal.
Ensure convergence of plans/schemes/programmes of various governments, financial institutions.
Carry out any other role as part of IHCDs as assigned by Development Commissioner for Handlooms from time to time.
Duties of Implementing Agency
Recognize the role of social capital - at the weavers' level.