Varanasi: The UPA-government at the Centre on Saturday announced Rs 6,234 crore package for 13 lakh weavers, including two lakh in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
    
The announcement was made by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who holds additional charge of Textiles, days after Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi wrote him a letter asking concessions for the debt-ridden weavers.
    
The package, to be implemented from January 2012, includes Rs 3,884 crore debt waiver and Rs 2,350 crore for a six-fold strategy to uplift weavers during 12th Plan.
    
An individual weaver will get benefit upto Rs 50,000, Sharma said. The scheme will help 15,000 weavers' cooperative societies besides individual weavers.
    
Addressing a press conference here, Sharma said the decision for grant of the package was taken on Friday in New Delhi at the meeting of the Expenditure Finance Committee.
    
When asked whether it was an election package, Sharma denied, stating the work on the programme had started a long ago.
    
"In August, weavers had come to Delhi seeking help," he said adding that the Finance Minister had also announced Rs 3,000 crore loan waiver for the handloom weavers in his budget speech of 2011-12.
    
However, a large number of individual weavers in Uttar Pradesh were left out of the scheme, which was to mainly benefit the cooperative societies.
    
Gandhi who has been touring extensively the state ahead of assembly elections next year, said in his letter to Sharma that the handloom sector has come under stress on account of stiff competition and credit unavailability.

(Agencies)