GAURIPUR, Oct 13 - Potters of greater Gauripur area like Arjun Kumhar, Narayan Kumhar, Chandan Kumhar, Bindu Kumhar, Ratan Kumhar, Mukhlal Kumhar, Biki Kumhar, Rajen Kumhar, Lakshmi Kumhar and Rohit Kumhar, to name a few, are presently struggling for their livelihood and staring at an uncertain future.
Living in their dilapidated ancestral huts, the potters are engaged in making various kinds of earthen utensils like pitchers of various shape and size, lamps, incense stick stands etc. and are selling them in the local markets. But due to plentiful supply of plastic artefacts, the demand for hand-crafted earthen utensils have been drastically reduced, following which the potters visibly fail to compete with these machine-made plasticware.
The potters admittedly purchase clay at Rs 2,000 per tractor load and a particular type of sand for Rs 800 and collect these raw material from a distant place, for which they have to spend extra money. After readying the clay, the potters revolve the wheel manually and shape the utensils as per need. Though the wheel can be revolved electrically, however, such a luxury cannot be afforded by the potters, hence their output remains limited.
After drying their hand-crafted ware in the sun, the potters use a kind of indigenous colour and burn their produce in the kiln, for which purchase of firewood or coal takes up a lot of money.
The potters usually sell 100 cups at Rs 90, small pitcher at Rs 200 and big pitcher at Rs 900. In this way they earn a meagre small amount which is not at all supportive.
Bindu Kumhar, a skilled potter told this Correspondent that during Durga Puja and Diwali, their sales soar, though at other times of the year, their revenue intake is very low. Obviously, they have to make do with a hand-to-mouth existence.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the potters of the area are a very depressed lot as they have not received any financial aid from the State Industry Department despite having approached the concerned officials several times. The officers of the department are alleged to have never cared to visit the potters� houses though the district office is located just a few yards away from their locality, the disgruntled artisans lamented
Moreover, the present generation of children of the potters are not interested to take up the profession as it is not at all profitable. They are busy looking for some remunerative business or Government service in the days to come. If that be the state of affairs, it will be well nigh impossible for the pottery profession to ever flourish in the distant future.
A section of enlightened people of the area have therefore demanded the Government to impose a ban on harmful plastic utensils and implement stiff rules and make it mandatory to use earthen-made utensils in tea stalls, hotels and restaurants, besides the numerous festivals in order to give incentive to the potters, and to ensure their survival.