Stepping up efforts in the battle against coronavirus across Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi government will now deliver khadi masks at the doorsteps of people as their demand has been steadily rising due to increase in positive cases. Government sources said that the benefit will help create women's self-help groups (SHGs) and give them employment at the local level. Khadi branding will also take place for the first time since Independence, even as porous material would prove effective against the virus, the sources claimed.
Navneet Sehgal, Principal Secretary, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Department, told IANS: "The khadi masks are being prepared by women SHGs of the Village Development Department. They have been given six lakh metres of cloth, with eight masks made from one metre and another 1-2 from cloth cuttings. In this way, about 50 lakh masks will be made. A pair of masks will cost Rs 20-22 in the market."
He pointed out that cloth weavers as well as village women making masks would thus be provided source of income. He said that the activists of Sahayata Group will deliver the masks to the market.
Sehgal said: "The masks will be best quality, three-layers ones and available in packings of two. Training for making masks has been sourced out to an organization called Indian Green Khadi."
According to information received from the department, there are about 2,000 self-help groups of women in the state at present, with nearly 2 million women beneficiaries.
At present, there are about six lakh cotton and khadi weavers in the state. The central and state governments give 20 and 15 per cent subsidies on khadi clothes respectively. 5 per cent grant from the state goes directly to the accounts of weavers.
The masks will be distributed through the Rural Development Department and Gram Panchayats. These can take the help of post offices, banks and other NGOs. Many institutions are contacting the Khadi and Village Industries Department for this.