GUWAHATI, Aug 23 - A team of artisans from Assam, who went to Kerala to participate in the national level SARAS fair, had to return home disappointed without displaying their products in the fair because of the devastating floods in the state. However, their products were not damaged in the floods and they managed to return home safely. But the artisans of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland were not so fortunate and some of their handicraft products were damaged in the devastating floods.
A five member team from Assam comprising of four artisans and led by Nitul Barkataki, the master trainer for water hyacinth products of the North East Development Finance Corporation Limited (NEDFi) went to participate in the national level fair held at Chengannur in Kerala, but they were not fortunate enough to display their products in the fair as the fair ground was submerged in water before their products arrived.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Barkakati said that they boarded the train to go to Chengannur on August 10 to participate in the fair to be held from August 14 to 24. He said that they reached Chengannur on the night of August 12, but the products of the artisans, which were also booked in the same train, were not off loaded in the station and were taken to Thiruvananthapuram. Next morning he came to the railway station to enquire about the products and was told by the Railway authorities that the products would be brought back soon.
Barkakati said that the exhibition ground was submerged in floods before the products of the artisans of the State were brought to Chengannur by the Railway authorities. He said that the artisans were kept in a different hotel by the fair authorities, while, he was staying in a different hotel. He said that as the situation was turning worse, the fair authorities moved the artisans to a safer place and later he decided to bring the artisans from the State to the hotel where he was staying as it was not affected by floods. �We faced some hardships but this can be expected in such a calamity,� he admitted.
Barkataki said that the Government of Kerala and the organizers of the fair were very helpful to the participants from all over the country. All the participants were taken to Thiruvananthapuram and sent back to respective states either by train or air. The artisans from Assam were sent by air on August 21 and Barkataki himself returned yesterday. Efforts are now on to ensure that the products of the artisans of the State, which were booked on Railways and never reached the venue of the fair, are brought back safely to Assam. The concerned officials are now in touch with the Railway authorities in this regard.
Barkataki admitted that though the artisans of the State did not suffer loss due to damage of products in floods, there is disappointment because they could not display their water hyacinth products in front of the people in the national level fair.