<p>The next time you visit a Fabindia store, you are likely to find on its shelves a saree or a stone artifact deftly crafted by a project displaced person.
This may be possible because of the initiative taken by Navjeevan Cooperative Ltd (NCL), a body formed by displaced families of Tata Steel’s proposed six million tonne Kalinganagar steel project
Fabindia is one the three buyers- besides Tribes India, an organisation under the Union ministry of tribal affairs and Delhi Crafts Council to have evinced interest in buying various products made by the cooperative.
“We have sent sarees and stone craft samples to Fab India and are awaiting their response. Tribes India has also shown interest in our products and is likely to visit our place soon”, says Mukul Kumar Mishra, senior associate programme manager of the cooperative. Mishra oversees livelihood activities, backroom support and market linkages for the cooperative.
In fact, the cooperative has already bagged a small order for supply of hand paintings on stoles, dupattas and wall hangings from Delhi Crafts Council.
Starting with paintings and wall hangings, NCL has expanded its range of offerings to garments (hand painted T-shirts), hand painted stoles, dupattas, sarees and multi-utility items like conference files & folders, flower vases, pen stands, laminated jute bags and mobile covers. The cooperative procures sarees, mostly silk sarees, from handloom weavers in Odisha, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
The strategy has paid off well, with the cooperative generating a turnover of about Rs 42 lakh last year.
To train the artisans of the garment unit, NCL is leveraging the expertise of two graduates of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) for preparation of season-wise designs, modulation of production plans and standardisation of products among other things. The designers will visit the garment unit at Trijanga (site of Tata Steel’s rehabilitation colony) for 7-8 days in a month.
With active facilitation from the rehabilitation and resettlement team of Tata Steel, the cooperative also runs business units in poultry, pickle, phenyl making, and painting. More than 110 members belonging to the displaced families have come together to form this cooperative.
NCL has firmed up plans to expand its garment unit at Trijanga, one of the three modern rehabilitation colonies set up by Tata Steel for the relocated families. It is geared to make cotton and silk kurtas with paintings on them.
A bigger garment unit that will accommodate 60 artisan-members is proposed to be set up at Gobarghati. Orders for machinery have been placed and the required infrastructure is being put in place. The unit is likely to be operational later this year.
Plans are also afoot to set up an exclusive showroom at Bhubaneswar where products manufactured by NCL will be displayed and put up for sale.