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Srinagar, Jun 22 (UNI) Declaring that all the 40,000 outdated looms would be replaced with modern looms for the uplift of the handloom sector, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said mixing of technology and craftsmanship was necessary to promote Kashmir handicrafts to meet the global market demand.

Seeking Central assistance for modernisation of these looms, he asked the Centre to provide financial help in a phased manner in a period of five years.

He called for mixing of technology and craftsmanship to promote Kashmir handicrafts, adding that matching of the two would meet the global market demand of handicrafts products, both in design and quality.

An official spokesman said today that Mr Azad, speaking at a function, said handicrafts were the identity of Kashmir and an important component of the state's economy.

He said the workforce of 3.5 lakh artisans had kept the economy of the valley going when most of the sectors were hard hit by violence.

Mr Azad said handicrafts like the scenic beauty of Kashmir were a strong identity of the Valley world over.

He said when a large number of people coming from various sections of the society migrated from here, the artisans were perhaps the only section that stay put and engaged themselves in their trade despite difficulties.

This, the Chief Minister said, helped the Valley's economy to going up.

Mr Azad highlighted the need for modernisation to keep pace with the changing markets demands and called for using modern technology to improve design and quality of handicrafts products.

He said the state annually produced handicrafts worth Rs 1600 crore of which exports account for Rs 1400 crore.

He added that the exports include Rs 1200 crore worth carpets alone.

The Chief Minister asked the artisans to increase the handicrafts exports to Rs 2000 crore in next two years by applying modern technology made available by the newly set up institutes.

UNI BAS KK DB1134

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