GUWAHATI, April 11 - Today, in every village of Assam, local weavers have been facing untold financial crises due to absence of a full-fledged market to sell their products. Ironically at the same time, many wholesale outlets of gamosa located at Fancy Bazar, the commercial hub of Assam, are flooded with machine-made gamosas imported from outside the State. This was the scene witnessed by this correspondent when he made a round of the wholesale gamosa market at Fancy Bazar.
Ahead of Rongali Bihu, a series of raids carried out by officials of the handloom and textile department against imported machine-made gamosas in the State during the last few days are making the headlines in the local media. But the thriving imported gamosa business at Fancy Bazar proves the inefficiency of the department. But conscious circles tend to point to an alleged nexus between the wholesalers and officials of the department concerned that has facilitated unhindered sale of the imported machine-made gamosa. This has also posed a serious threat to the village industry of Assam.
�How many pieces do you want? We can supply thousands of gamosa at Rs 80 each. Stock is available, don�t worry,� said a wholesaler while talking to this correspondent.
Several other unsuspecting wholesalers made similar statements before this correspondent, who approached them as a prospective customer. These businessmen sell both hand-made local gamosas and the imported ones. According to them many customers prefer the imported gamosa because of its low price.
While the business in imported gamosas at Fancy Bazar is thriving, many indigenous small traders coming from Hajo, Sipajhar, Sualkuchi, Ramdia, etc., are struggling to sell their local hand-woven gamosas on the footpaths of the commercial hub at higher rates. Luckily though, their products do find some takers.
�We buy a gamosa for Rs 100 from the weaver and sell it for Rs 130. But managing some space to sell our products becomes very tough as the police evict us whenever it catches their fancy,� Nayan Jyoti Das from Hajo told this correspondent.
On the other hand, some local businessmen alleged that during the drive against imported machine-made gamosas, officials also seized hundreds of hand-made gamosas from them.
Reacting to the allegation, official of the handloom and textile department Rabul Saikia said, �We will examine all the seized gamosas in the laboratory of the Textile Institute. And if we don�t find any fault with the products, those will be returned to the respective sellers.�
Saikia added that the department would continue with the drive against imported machine-made gamosas in the coming days.
Remedy lies in GI tag: Meanwhile, a source in the handloom and textile department informed that obtaining the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the Assamese gamosa would be an effective measure to stop import of machine-made gamosas from outside the State.
�The process to obtain GI tag is under way for the past six months. But we are facing a lot of difficulty in providing evidence to prove that gamosa is a unique product of the Assamese community. But we are working on it and hope within a few days gamosa will get the tag,� the source said. If gamosa gets the GI tag, then its production, either by machine or in the handloom, will be restricted outside Assam, the source added.
Director of the department Kabita Deka said the process to obtain the GI tag would be accelerated after the Lok Sabha elections are over.