By Ramesh Kebbehundi
Tell your friends that you are going to Ballari (Bellary earlier) and they will ask you to bring jeans from there. Apart from the famous and infamous mining industry, Ballari is known for its good-quality, low-cost jeans. Ballari sells jeans brands with names such as ‘Nasty’, ‘Point Blank’, ‘Hotline’, ‘Pierre Ballari’, ‘Power’ and ‘Reporter’. The garment industry was introduced to Ballari during the British rule. Ballari was once a British cantonment and it was here that the uniforms for the British troops used to be stitched. Today, this legacy manifests itself in jeans as more than 250 small units in the town churn out around one million pairs of jeans a year.
At the ongoing State-level Khadi Utsav-2018, exhibition-cum-sale that is being organised by Karnataka State Khadi and Village Industries Board at J.K. Grounds in city, there is an outlet that sells jeans from Ballari. “People can buy jeans here for just Rs. 400 per piece but the same jeans that are produced in Ballari sell in the market and shops across the country for a minimum price of Rs. 800 to Rs. 1000, says Mahesh, the stall owner.
Karnataka State Khadi Gramodyog Samyuktha Sangha, Bengeri of Hubballi and Dharwad Taluk Garaga Kshetriya Seva Sangha of Dharwad district are the only authorised shops that are permitted to sell National Flags across the country. They have also displayed Khadi products at the Mela. Visitors and students are flooding to buy khadi kurtas, jubbas and other khadi materials.
Rs. 2.5 crore business turnover expected: District Officer for Khadi and Village Industries Board S.S. Kantharaju told SOM that the Department has expected a business turnover of Rs. 2.5 crore at this year’s Khadi Utsav which will conclude on Nov. 29. It will be open from 10 am to 9 pm daily.
Last year, the Department had registered a turnover of Rs. 2.25 crore and also recorded Rs. 2 crore business in 2016. Both Central and State Governments have been conducting this Utsav across the country with a main intention of providing a platform for traditional weavers to display and sell their handloom clothes and their cottage industries products.
Through such exhibitions, weavers and producers of all-weather and environment-friendly khadi materials which have a Swadeshi touch are being encouraged as per policy initiative since 1995.
Many of the Khadi Gramodyog Organisations and handloom weavers had obtained loan from State-owned Khadi and Village Industries Board and Government of India-administered Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) under Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (REGP), Pradhan Mantri Employment Guarantee Programme (PMEGP) and Chief Minister’s Employment Guarantee Programme (CMEGP). More than 216 Gramodyog Units had obtained loans ranging from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh to set up their weaving, spinning, dying and bleaching units.
The Government has given 35 per cent subsidy for these units. They produce hand-woven 100 per cent pure cotton khadi (Arale Khadi) clothes using raw materials available in their areas. The Government has also created marketing facilities exclusively to these khadi and village industries units apart from giving loans to them. Similar khadi expos will be held at different cities across the country every year, he added.
Huge demand from Mysureans
Of late, the government is also holding expos in Mysuru as there is a huge demand for khadi materials, clothes and other products. The Department has set up 95 stalls this year in Mysuru and Khadi producers from Dharwad, Ballari, Kolar, Chikkaballapura and Davanagere, J&K, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Haryana have set up stalls. They have displayed products including Khadi clothes, cotton sarees, cotton kurtas, Channapattana dolls, forest produce, herbal medicine, juice, Badam powder, honey, artefacts, snacks, pickles, leather and a host of Ayurvedic products.