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news details
SHGs played major role to overcome shortage of masks
‘COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown’
5/30/2020 10:18:25 PM
Avinash Azad
Early Times Report

Jammu, May 29: When the entire industries in India stopped its production in the wake of country lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain spread of Coronavirus, local self help groups (SHGs) played a major role to overcome the shortage of masks in the Union Territory of J&K.
These SHGs (a group of few women) associated with the J&K State Handloom Development Corporation Ltd and Khadi Village Industries Board (KVIB) and National Rural Livelihoods Mission were asked by J&K Government to stitch cotton face-masks which are most important to protect against the virus.
“Few SHGs provided us face-masks free of cost initially, I tried to compensate them but they were not agreed saying that we are contributing for our nation”, said Indu Kanwal Chib, Deputy Commissioner, Reasi, appreciating the nationalism the unsung hero of COVID-19 emergency.
“But now we are paying them Rs 5 as stitching charges for each face-mask apart from the material to fulfil the standard advised by the world health organisation (WHO)”, the DC said, adding that government had issued guidelines in which maximum cost of face-mask and quality was defined. “Government fixed maximum Rs 20 per masks including material and stitching charges, but the each mask cost us Rs 17 to 18”, she added.
Amid the allegations mask purchase scandal, this correspondent reached five Assistant Commissioner Development (ACDs) and tried to find any loophole in purchase process and possibility of middle man’s roles in the process.
“Earlier, we were getting supply of face-masks from KVIB, which cost us Rs 16/mask, but now we are getting same mask from another SHG @ Rs 12 cheapest among all other districts of Jammu division, even Kashmir”, said ACD, Kathua Narayan Dutt. “Not a single mask has been purchased from market and through any firm or individual”, he added.
Similarly, the ADC Samba Sidharth Dhiman, ACD Kishtwar Kishore Singh, ACD Poonch Rajesh Lakhan, DPO Ramban Sunil Btutiyal informed that not a single mask has been through any individual or any firm except the SHGs. “There clear directions from the administrative department to engage the SHGs in the manufacturing of face-masks as per the standard of WHO and within a fixed amount”, these officer said.
It is pertinent to mention here that recently news went viral on social media alleging “masks purchase scandal” naming some top officers.
When contacted Secretary RD&PR Sheetal Nanda said that there are defined rules for purchase and manufacturing of face-masks and there is no possibility any pilferage or role of a middle man. “The SHGs across the J&K have played major roles in time of national emergency. The Government frame guide lines keeping in view all aspect. Since, the SHGs providing the face masks to administration and payment is directly transferred in the account of SHGs, where is the role middle man or any kind of scandal”, she added.
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