‘SHG’ receives notice to repay loan for shut unit

‘SHG’ receives notice to repay loan for shut unit

The sanitary napkin manufacturing unit started by Isiri Self-Help Group under Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Swacch Bharath District Support Unit, at Laila, was closed down three years ago.

However, the members of the Isiri SHG have now been issued notice by bank to repay the loan borrowed to establish the unit.

The unit, a first-of-its-kind in the state, manufactured low-cost and hygienic sanitary napkins.

The unit started functioning in August 2011 and was making biodegradable sanitary napkins under the brand name ‘Safety-Feel Free’, from wood pulp.

It continued the production for four years and was shutdown three years ago due to lack of patronage from the authorities concerned.

The unit was opened at a cost of Rs 7.33 lakh, of which Rs 4.33 lakh was given by Nabard and the remaining amount was borrowed from a bank as loan.

The napkins manufactured in the unit was supplied to all the schoolchildren (girl) from Class VIII to X under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

Incidentally, when the SSA grant was reduced to the district, the demand for the napkin too was reduced forcing the unit to shutdown. Further, the government hospitals in the district too had decided to include ‘safety’ napkins in the Madilu Kit, which was being distributed to women after delivery at government hospitals. However, the distribution of Madilu Kit too has been stopped by the government.

Of the borrowed loan, the Isiri SHG had already repaid Rs 2 lakh to the bank. As the unit was shutdown, the SHG could not repay the pending loan. Now, the SHG members have been asked to repay Rs 4 lakh (pending amount along with interest) to the bank.

“When the unit is shutdown, how can we payback the loan?” asked Yashodha, member of the Isiri SHG. Even Isiri SHG ceases to exist now following the shutting down of the unit, she added.

“The Swacch Bharath District Support unit did not come to the rescue of the unit when it was being shutdown,” members alleged.

“When the unit was functioning, its eight members were preparing more than 500 sanitary napkins per day. Around 10 of us had attended a workshop at Cauvery Matha Trust in Mysuru to avail training in preparation of these napkins when the unit was started,”  Yashodha recalled.

She said, “To ensure that the napkin unit does not fail, I had worked for an year without taking the monthly wages. Now, the bank has served notice to members asking them to repay the loan. We do not have any work. How can we payback the loan? The Swacch Bharath District Support Unit should own the responsibility for repaying the loan.”

Yashoda said, “Even the machinery installed at the unit had developed frequent technical snag when the unit was functioning. Only we know, how much we had struggled to sustain the unit for four years,” she added.

When asked, Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer Selvamani said, “The zilla panchayat will look into the possibility of helping the SHG. I will speak to Lead Bank Manager not to recover the loan by force. I have asked the members to visit me with all the files related to the unit.”