GUWAHATI, July 12 � The members of the Asam Samabay Kahar Sangha Ltd and the Asam Kahar Silpi Sangstha, the cooperative society of the bell-metal artisans of the State and the association of the bell-metal artisans, today jointly staged a dharna at Dispur Last Gate, demanding immediate steps to bail out the bell-metal industry from the crisis it is now facing.
In their memorandum to the Chief Minister, they pleaded that the Samabay Kahar Sangha should be paid an ex-gratia financial assistance of Rs 25 crore so that it can continue with its act of supporting the bell-metal artisans engaged in 280 workshops at Sarthebari.
They also pleaded that the Kahar Sangha should be granted permission to procure scrap bell-metal items inside and outside the country and the Forest Department should be asked to sell its abandoned timber logs to the Sangha for meeting its charcoal demand.
Further, they said that the Government should provide artiste pension to at least ten bell-metal artisans every year. The artisans engaged in the bell-metal industry should also be provided immediately with free healthcare facilities, they said.
Besides, they said, the people engaged in the bell-metal workshops should be provided with scientific residential quarters.
Pleading for an immediate step to waive the bank loans taken by these artisans in 2004 from the Nalbari branch of the State Bank of India, the bell-metal artisans also requested the Government to initiate steps for setting up a tourism centre at Sarthebari for the benefit of the tourists from Nepal, Bhutan, etc, countries who pay visits to Sarthebari for procuring bell-metal items.
They also pleaded for imposition of taxes on the bell-metal items coming to the State from other states.