Pudukottai SHGs work feverishly to meet rising demand for masks

 thehindu.com  03/26/2020 13:03:27 

With demand for masks on the rise in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, six self help groups (SHGs) in Pudukottai district have been feverishly engaged in its manufacture to cater to the increasing requirements.

While two SHGs have been making them in Pudukottai Town, the remaining four groups were involved in the task elsewhere in the district with the Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihood Mission facilitating and aiding them in the sale of masks.

The six groups have manufactured about 57,000 masks of cotton and non-woven varieties in the last one week alone with the majority of pieces having been sold to rural local bodies, municipalities and panchayat unions across the district, said A. Lalitha, Project Director, Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihood Mission, Pudukottai.

An initial orientation was given to the group members and the exercise commenced feverishly over the past few days when the COVID-19 disease threat became intense. The group members had in their stock raw materials required for its making and set on the exercise quickly.

The State Rural Livelihood Mission is also aiding the groups in the sale of masks through the District Supplies and Marketing Society, said Ms. Lalitha. The six SHGs comprise about 40 members. Two groups were engaged in the production at the Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihood Mission office in Pudukottai.

Our work commences at around 7 a.m. and goes on till late hours, said A. Inbavalli, one of the members of Manikuil Mahalir Kuzhu of Koodal Nagar in Pudukottai Town. The demand for masks has shot up considerably over the past few days due to its shortage in the open market, said Ms. Inbavalli.

Nearly 48,000 masks made by the six groups have been sold out said Ms. Lalitha adding that the groups were striving hard to cater to the rising demand across the district.

The groups were utilising the revolving fund, saving amounts and bank loans given to them for making the masks with the sale being facilitated by the Livelihood Mission, Ms. Lalitha said adding that a fresh order had come from the District Collectorate seeking 10,000 masks. The non-woven mask is priced at 10 per piece, while it is 13 in the case of per cotton mask.

We give the mask free of cost to aged persons, said Inbavalli. Training has been imparted to about 50 more SHGs in the district last week in the manufacture of masks, she further said.

Two other groups were simultaneously engaged in the manufacture of hand sanitisers over the last three days with technical assistance from the Livelihood Mission. A Madurai-based chemical company had provided the raw material for its manufacture. About 250 litres of hand sanitisers have been produced of which 160 litres were ready for procurement by different Town Panchayats. The amount generated through sale goes to the group members.

Ms. Lalitha said this was the first time that hand sanitisers were being made by SHGs in the district. The Health Department authorities had given the training for making hand sanitisers which were being sold at a subsidised rate.

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