Thousands of families in Jammu and Kashmir earned their livelihood by stitching face masks during the COVID-19 lockdown, an official said on Sunday.
Many of these families are thankful to the administration for providing them employment during the lockdown through J-K Khadi Village Industries Board (KVIB) and State Handloom Development Corporation Limited, he said.
The Department of Industries and Commerce, J-K has so far manufactured as many as 11.66 lakh masks by engaging various artisans, the official said.
"Out of the total, KVIB has manufactured more than 10 lakh face masks and J-K State Handloom Development Corporation about 1.6 lakh," said Commissioner Secretary, Industries and Commerce department, Manoj Dwivedi.
He said administration's people-friendly measures during the lockdown have not only provided employment to thousands of people of the union territory but has also augmented the production of face masks in J-K.
"The unit holders of Handloom Development Corporation and KVIB have been able to survive the lockdown by manufacturing face masks. They have been able to earn their bread and butter only because of this activity," Dwivedi said.
Secretary KVIB Rashid Ahmad Qadri said it was a humongous task to achieve the production of over 10 lakh face masks in a short duration.
"The department has manufactured 10.43 lakh cotton face masks out of which 10.40 lakh masks have already been distributed," he said.
The whole exercise was undertaken by the districts under directions from the J-K administration, Qadri said.
Deputy commissioners personally supervised the activity, framed district level task forces and placed orders with different self-help groups, local tailors and other units, he said.
The distribution of face masks was managed through the Panchayati Raj Institutions and the payment was directly transferred to the accounts of the beneficiaries, Qadri added.
He said the administration ensured the issuance of passes to mask manufacturing units so that their work does not suffer during lockdown.
Trained candidates of rural self employment training institutes also prepared around 95,000 face masks and handed them over to the district administration in Doda, Kishtwar, Samba, Kulgam, Kupwara, Pulwama and Shopian, an official said.
Nasreena Begum, who runs a cutting and tailoring centre at Thathri area of Doda, said she was "getting anxious" for her family's survival during lockdown as she was receiving no orders.
However, the orders for stitching masks from district administration and other government organizations made things better and so far she, along with 20 other women, have made over 50,000 face masks, Begum said.
"Our business had collapsed as we could not get any material due to lack of transportation during lockdown, but thanks to KVIB we have received orders for supply of masks to the government and are now able to run our day-to-day affairs," Begum said.
She said her unit now manufactures almost 1,200 face masks a day and is hopeful to get orders for more in the future.
She has also received orders for face masks from the Army, BSF and other security agencies, Begum said.