The Narendra Modi government is all set to make khadi a “zeroeffect, zero-defect” global product. The government has decided to harness solar energy to power “charkhas” (spinning wheels) across the country to enable handspun khadi to become the zero-carbon footprint green fabric of India. Minister of State for Micro, Small and MEDIUM Enterprises (MSME) Giriraj Singh has received the Prime Minister’s go-ahead for the project and the field trial of the ‘solar charkhas’ has already begun on a pilot basis in the Khanwa village of Nawada district in Bihar.

Singh has also submitted a vision document for the revival of the khadi industry in the country. Singh is slated to meet officials from the PMO to discuss the vision document on Friday.

“The vision of this initiative is multipronged: Ideological, economic and social. It is to add technology to spinning by charkhas as per the vision of Gandhiji who wanted the application of science to the spinning wheel; only that technology should not replace humans. On the other hand, solar charkhas will make khadi the green organic yarn that does not hurt the environment,” Singh told MAIL TODAY.

According to the minister, while harnessing solar power for spinning would not involve the use of electricity, it would also drastically reduce water consumption. “For making a metre of khadi fabric, three litre of water is required; for making a metre of mill fabric, 55 litres of water is needed,” Singh said.

The new-age charkhas have been named nano spinning mills and the MSME ministry’s new slogan is “Nano Spinning Mills as the new Charkhas”. “The need of the hour is decentralised production which is able to create more jobs and make Khadi competitive in terms of reducing the cost of yarn and production,” said Singh.

In the next phase of implementation, the ministry would extend the solar charkha scheme to all the villages in India that are covered under the ‘Adrash Gram Yojna’.

The ministry has found that even at the experimental stage, the technology has yielded Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 a month for every household involved in the exercise. The ministry plans to introduce 1,000 such spinning wheels in all villages. “With just 400 spinning wheels now, the village is earning around `15 crore a month, with 1,000 such wheels, the income of the villagers will go up to Rs 30 crore. We will achieve this before 2016 ends,” Singh said.

According to the estimates of the ministry, the solar spinning wheels would also generate employment. Estimates say 10 persons are engaged in every solar spinning wheel; thus in the village alone, 10,000 jobs would be created.

“Given the number of parliamentary constituencies and the villages under the Adarsh Gram Yojna, we shall be able to create 70 to 80 lakh jobs in 2016-17,” Singh said.

According to studies conducted by the MSME ministry, solar charkhas have boosted production 20 times. The Khadi vision document says solar charkhas have also led to more than four-fold appreciation in income of artisans.

With a drastic reduction in cost of wages, cost of yarn, which has so far remained rather high, becomes competitive, the document said.