Khadi artisans feel heat due to uncertainty over Railways’ order

The Indian Railways decision to not provide bed sheets and pillow covers etc to passengers travelling in air-conditioned coaches in view of the coronavirus pandemic has left weavers and artisans involved in making khadi products as well as KVIC officials sweating.

Reason: Khadi India had received orders worth Rs 39.25 crore from the Railways to supply bed sheets, pillow covers, towels and other items, over which uncertainty looms large now. These 57 orders were made through various Railway zones.

A Railway Ministry source said that Khadi India Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena had written to Railway Board Chairman and CEO VK Yadav that in case the Railways cancelled the orders or refused to take delivery, “our Khadi artisans and institutions will suffer irreparable losses”.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) said that it owed gratitude to the Ministry in supporting social causes and empowering khadi spinners and weavers belonging to the marginalised sector even during the pandemic.

The KVIC chief said that the 57 purchase orders were reported “pending” for acceptance by the respective Railway zones.

Saxena pointed out that bed rolls and pillow covers manufactured under the aegis of KVIC for the Railways sport logos of the national transporter and thus cannot be sold in the open market.

IANS messages to the Railway Board Chairman for comments on the issue did not elicit a response.

The Railways had suspended its passenger, Mail and Express train services from March 25. It started Shramik Special to ferry stuck migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists from May 1.

From May 12, 15 pairs of air-conditioned trains were resumed, with a rider that bed sheets, pillow covers and towels would not be given to the passengers of AC coaches.

After coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given emphasis on the use of khadi products through several initiatives.