Khadi’s Employment Drive Transforms Tiger-infested Bali Island in Sunderbans

It is a historic transformation of the sleepy tiger-infested Bali island in the dense mangrove thickets of Sunderbans. The island, which was totally disconnected from the mainstream of development since Independence, is now bustling with Khadi activities.

Over a hundred tiger widows (Bag Bidhoba in local parlance) in the Bali island who were engaged with spinning activity by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) in 2018, can now boast of modern amenities, advanced equipment like charkhas and looms and marketing support to provide these women artisans with sustainable livelihood. To begin Khadi activities on the island, KVIC had set up a temporary structure three years ago, which has been converted into a permanent work shed now.

Chairman KVIC Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena inaugurated the newly built 3000 sq feet work shed and a 500 sq feet common facility centre for Khadi artisans at the Bali island. The “Tiger Victim Khadi Katai Kendra” is now equipped with 125 new model charkhas, 15 modern looms and provides employment to nearly 150 women artisans of the Bali island. KVIC has also provided these artisans with yarn dyeing machines and readymade garment manufacturing machines. The centre has been modernized at the cost of Rs 95 lakh which has been funded by KVIC under its Khadi Reforms and Development Program (KRDP) and Workshed Scheme for Khadi Artisans. The centre is being run by a local Khadi Institution of West Bengal.

Shri Saxena said the Khadi activities on Bali island are inspired by  Prime Minister’s vision of empowering the marginalized sections and reconnecting them with the mainstream of development. He said Khadi activities on Bali island will ensure financial sustainability of the tiger widows who were staring at a dark future after having lost the breadwinners for their families in tiger attacks. He said while the self-employment activities will help rehabilitate these hapless women artisans; it will also encourage other families to take up spinning and weaving activities to earn a respectable livelihood. By taking up Khadi activities, these artisans will be able to earn up to Rs 200 per day. He said the idea is also to desist these families from venturing into deep water or thick mangroves for fishing and thus mitigate the threat of tiger attacks.

Notably, KVIC had inaugurated the spinning centre at Bali island in 2018 and distributed 75 Charkhas to rope in local women artisans with spinning activity. KVIC had also distributed 500 Bee-Boxes with live bee colonies to empower the economically backward people of the island by providing them with self-employment. These artisans were also provided with comprehensive training by KVIC.