DHUBRI, Aug 28 - Unlike every year, the fervour of the ensuing festive season is missing among the people living in the Asarikandi village of Dhubri district, because most of their kilns have been destroyed.
The artisans of this village wait for the festive season every year to sell a huge chunk of their products, which they will not be able to do this time as the recent flood had damaged all their stored products. They will also not be able to make new products to comply with the demands during the ensuing festive season as most of the kilns have either been destroyed or been affected in such a way which would necessitate a huge amount of money and time to renovation.
The villagers informed that there are 70 kilns in the village that serve almost 180 families who make a living based on terracotta products. Almost 350 people are directly dependent on this terracotta industry. According to the villagers, out of these 70 kilns, the second wave of flood this year has totally destroyed almost 20 of them while 32 kilns have been affected severely.
Chandan Pal, a young certified master craftsman of this village said that every year during this time of the year, the villagers become busy producing various terracotta products to meet the demand during the festive season. He added that every year the village supplies more than one crore diyas for Diwali, hundreds of statues of Hatima, a traditional form of Goddess Durga during the Durga Puja along with various decorative and gift items made out of clay. He also said that as the autumn season is ensuing, the demand for flower pots is also on the rise. But the damaged stored products and destroyed kilns have forced them to be jobless. �The condition of many of the villagers are such that they have already started leaving the village to the nearby towns and to Guwahati to work as labourers, just to feed their family here. In fact, my brother has also left, who is also an ace terracotta craftsman,� the master craftsman said.
The villagers informed that while to rebuild the destroyed kilns, they will need almost Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh, to repair the semi-destroyed kilns to a usable condition they will need at least Rs 20,000, which is very tough for them to afford.
While talking to this correspondent, 76-year-old artisan Nonigopal Pal said that he has been involved with this industry from a very early age but in his entire life he has not seen such devastating floods like the recent one.
�The 1988 floods were much bigger than the recent one, but was less destructive. The recent floods entered the village very suddenly,� said Nonigopal, who has been awarded at many forums for his works. He added, �The recent floods have affected the terracotta industry of this historic village like never before and it will take years to get it back to its earlier status.�