GUWAHATI, Oct 11 � The State government�s strong declaration to protect Sualkuchi silk industry from the onslaught of outside products, including those from Varanasi, has turned out to be a hollow promise. The State Level Committee and its Subcommittee formed by the State government are virtually defunct. The State Level Committee is non-functional since its second meeting held on May 20, 2013, while the Sub-Committee is also non-functional since August, 2013.
The State Level Committee and the Subcommittee were formed in the wake of the March-April, 2013 revolt of the Sualkuchi weavers and handloom owners in protest against the practice of selling silk attire manufactured in other States, with plagiarized Sualkuchi designs, as State products. Police had to resort to firing and the Kamrup district administration had to finally clamp curfew in Sualkuchi areas to quell the protest.
The State Level Committee was formed by the State government �to determine the registration and protection of handloom products and designs of Assam� in April, 2013. The Committee was headed by the Commissioner, Handloom and Textiles, etc. Its first meeting was held on April 26, 2013.
The Subcommittee was formed and notified on July 8, 2013 with Additional Secretary, Handloom and Textiles Department as the Chairman and with 20 other members, which was assigned the job to look into the issue of initiating the process for securing the Geographical Indication (GI) Rights for the State�s handloom products.
Moreover, there is no other official initiative to protect the Sualkuchi silk products, following the second meeting of the State Level Committee, except notifying the Subcommittee.
At its second meeting, the State Level Committee said that there should be steps by the State government to protect the items covered by the Handloom Reservation Act. The Act covers 11 items, including mekhela-chadar, gamocha, etc. It also called for suitable legislation to protect traditional handloom products of the State.
It suggested a discussion between the Chief Minister and the Handloom and Textiles Minister on the said legislation.
It also suggested formation of the Subcommittee to look into the issue of GI Rights of the State on various ethnic products, like gamocha, dakhona and other tribal costumes, among others.
According to the locals of Sualkuchi, the State government has stopped showing any keenness towards protecting the Sualkuchi items from the onslaught of outside products. Significantly, the local MLA is also found to be indifferent in this respect, alleged several locals.
However, they maintain that the 2013 revolt of the Sualkuchi weavers and handloom owners has scared the unscrupulous traders dealing in outside silk items with plagiarized Sualkuchi designs.