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Kerala to urge Centre to extend MGNREGS to coir workers
Jun '11
The United Democratic Front (UDF) government in Kerala would urge the Centre to include coconut husk collection under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). This would secure employment opportunities for coir-spinning workers, the State Coir and Health Minister, Adoor Prakash has said.

The Minster, while speaking at a press conference after a round of discussion with the coir sector representatives, said that non-availability of coconut husk is one of the main problems that the coir sector is facing. This is because coir husk collection is not taking place on an adequate scale to meet the demand.

The earlier Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the State had introduced some measures. It included creation of a consortium of around 36 societies, each of which was given five lakh rupees for the task of husk collection. The initiative, however, did not meet with success as the consortium fell short of the expected standards.

The Minister said that discussion would be held regarding getting more cooperative societies in the consortium and making it an effective association.

The Minister said that coir sector representatives have also voiced their concern regarding low wages, a factor which plays an important part in shift of coir workers to other sectors. In response, the Minister assured them that the government would consider raising the minimum wage of coir workers from the current Rs. 150 per day.

Mr. Prakash said that in spite of an announcement by the LDF government that it would hike the coir workers' pension to Rs. 400, no proposal in this respect was included in the last budget that the LDF presented. He added that the UDF government would survey the possibilities of incorporating this proposal in its budget and initiate measures so that the workers draw a minimum pension of Rs. 400.

The Minister further declared that steps would be initiated by the government to ensure that the de-fibreing units, which have seized operations, are provided adequate support to resume functioning. Also, the government would continue holding discussions with the workers unions, mats and matting units, small-scale producers, exporters and political leaders to ensure growth of the coir sector.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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