Srinagar: Centre has decided to set up two laboratories in Delhi and Srinagar to test Pashmina shawls for any Shahtoosh strains in a bid to boost exports.
Official sources said the government would set up a testing facility at Srinagar and New Delhi airports.
“The testing facility was very much required and has been a long pending demand of the exporters and artisans. Union Minister for Textiles, Commerce, and Industries, and Consumer Affairs Piyush Goyal has agreed to the demand and the facility will be soon set up at Srinagar airport, ” sources said.
Pashmina exports from the valley were badly hit because of a lack of testing labs. Shawls were sent to Dehradun for testing and it was taking weeks before the consignments were cleared for exports.
“There won’t be any more testing at other airports for the consignment. It will save time for exporters. The consignment will reach the destination on time. Simultaneously the local testing facilities will be upgraded with state-of-the-art machines,” sources said.
Pashmina is fine wool extracted from a goat found in the cold desert of Ladakh. The wool is used by the artisans and craftsmen of Kashmir for making the exquisite handmade shawls that have a huge demand world over.
A plain 100 percent handmade pashmina shawl sells at Rs 10,000 at the manufacturing level. Design and embroidery work on the shawl determines its ultimate market value. Intricate embroidery and its design can push the cost of pashmina fabric including shawls to Rs five lakh or more.
Pashmina is among six traditional crafts of Kashmiri origin including Sozni-embroidery, Kani-shawl, Papier-Mâché, Khatamband, and Walnut Woodcarving that have been granted Geographical Indication (GI) symbolizing their exclusivity in the international market Director Handicrafts and Handloom department Mahmood Ahmad Shah said they had been pressing the centre to set up a testing facility for pashmina shawls.
“We have a testing facility here. We wanted a facility for checking the use of Shahtoosh. Our consignments would get delayed for 15 to 20 days due to the testing process.
Now we look forward to have such a facility in Kashmir,” he said.Shahtoosh trade was banned nationally in the mid-1990s. In 1975, the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) also banned all trade in Shahtoosh.
The announcement of establishing a testing facility in Kashmir has brought cheers to Pashmina exporters.
“It was a long pending demand of exporters. We hope that the laboratory is established very soon. We have 30 shipments held up in New Delhi right now due to the lack of a testing facility. This facility will bring a sigh of relief to exporters who often face delays in the shipping,” said Musadiq Shah, Senior Vice-President, Kashmir Pashmina Organisation.