A thousand odd people, belonging to 150 families, living in the heart of the city for nearly 200 years have suddenly found a parent. The cobblers off S N Banerjee Road, settled here as a colony on Uma Das Lane, have been adopted by the state MSME department to become self-sufficient and come out of economic slavery.
The cobblers were provided a loan without any collaterals by a commercial bank, which is a first in its own right. “We are trying to develop this cobblers’ cluster of Janbazaar as a model, but what was important was revenue.
“On one hand, the cobblers needed skill development and a decent working capital and on the other, we have to develop a completely mechanised modern shoe-making unit that can be utilised by all,” said state MSME secretary Rajiva Sinha.
“We realised that if the cobblers have to reach a breakthrough, just a soft loan and bettering their traditional skills will not help. They need land to build a new mechanised centre. But since the cobblers are too poor, we got the West Bengal Small Industries Development Corporation to buy a one-bigha plot at Beliaghata and give it on perpetual lease to the cobblers,” explained Sinha.