DERGAON, Oct 9 - The ban on single-use plastic has brought a ray of hope to the ruined pottery culture, a cottage industry of Assam which started during the 15th century.
Though it was recognised by the kings like Kumar Bhaskarbarma, Samudragupta etc., it was later neglected during the 20th century after plastic became popular.
Recently due to the ban imposed on plastic items, almost all the Durga puja committees had ordered for earthen materials to use during puja celebration in pandals and also to use as dishes, cups, glasses for presenting food items. But the supply was not enough as per the demand.
With the call given by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to use earthen items, pottery artisans are now taking it as a positive signal for them.
But the Chaks (the apparatus used to make earthen items) have already become unserviceable as those were not in use for long periods. But some of the Chaks were operational too, though less in number. Now the artisans are in great trouble as they cannot supply the large amount of items in such a short period of time.
The pottery industry is a cottage industry in Assam in which a special community called �Kumar� is engaged. As many as 18 lakh such Kumar community people are scattered across the State and about 10,000 only are engaged in the work directly. Jorhat, Majuli, Golaghat, Dhekial, Rangamatty, Titabar, Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Kamrup are some of the important places where people of Kumar community mainly reside.
The pottery business in Rangamatty and Dhekial is growing these days. Workers are again having a busy schedule. As there is no such fixed price for the earthen pots, the traders can charge any price.
Pottery artisan Janardhan Kumar from Rangamaty told this correspondent that the sale of the earthen cups, dish, etc., have been increasing by the day. �Although earlier times saw a fall in sales, this time it is quite good for us,� Kumar said.
He said that he had sold a few number of such earthen cups, dishes last year but this time the demand has almost doubled, and he is selling it at a price between Rs 3 to Rs 5 per cup in various places of the State. At present, there are about seven families involved in pottery business at Rangamatty.
It may mentioned here that the new generation takes up the pottery business from their parents. Since there is no such government schemes and incentive to develop the industry, these artisans hardly get to earn a proper livelihood.
�It has been a hand-to-mouth existence for us. The Government should look into the matter,� another artisan said.
�This time the sale of such items is good,� a shopkeeper at Dergaon said.
The president of All Assam Kumar Sanmilani Mohananda Kumar told this correspondent that an exhibition of all earthen items titled, �Kumarjyoti� will be organised at Guwahati in November.
�With the inauguration of the exhibition by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, our craft will get an exposure,� Kumar said.
�The Chaks will be renovated with electric aplliance under a Centra scheme in every district,� he said.
Noted scientist Dr Choudhury Nath Saikia said that utmost care should be taken for making a hygienic pot etc.
�Though burning of the clay items kills some germs, yet laboratory test is a must for the clay used in the industry,� Saikia said.
�While in the storage and during service further cleaning is a must,� he said.