40,000 carpet weaving looms in J

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Srinagar, Mar 17 (UNI) Assuring full central support to boost trade and commerce activities in Jammu and Kashmir, Union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh said 40,000 carpet weaving looms in the state would be modernized during the next five years.

For this purpose, he said, the central government would extend financial assistance of Rs 17 crore annually.

Addressing a meeting after laying the foundation stone of International Trade Centre (ITC) alongwith Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad at Pampore, he said 8000 looms would be modernized every year for which the government would provide 75 per cent assistance.

He asked the Jammu and Kashmir Bank authorities to explore possibility of providing soft loans to artisans.

He hoped that ITC like Entrepreneurship Development Institute, Craft Development Institute and Indian Institute of Carpet Technology would give a major boost to handicrafts, handlooms and other such sectors in the state.

Mr Jairam said the central government as a special case has released Rs 30 crore for setting up of the centre while as only Rs 14 to 15 crore were released for similar centres at Chennai, Kolkatta, Bangalore and Guwhati.

He said ITC at Pampore would be completed during next two years and would provide facilities of international standards for holding exhibitions, fairs and buyer-seller meets.

He said Entrepreneurship Development Institute coming up near the site of ITC Pampore is to be completed by end of coming June and would boost trade and economic activities in the state.

The Minister said as a major initiative to provide better marketing avenues to the saffron growers and increase productivity, the Spices Board under his ministry would enter into an agreement with National Masla Mills, an industrial unit of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said this is the first such agreement the Board is entering with a private sector unit. The agreement, he said, is expected in a week's time.

Referring to the Geographical Indication (GI) of Pashmina, Sozni and Kani shawl to enable branding of these world famous handicrafts, the Union Minister expressed hope that GI for Kani shawl is expected within a month.

However, he said there were some difficulties as far as GI for Pashmina and Sozni are concerned but the government is putting earnest efforts to address these during this year.

UNI BAS BJR KN1809

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