GOALPARA, Jan 24 � This is one of the classic cases of hardship, long struggle and finally reaping of success by the denizens of Paulpara, a remote and backward pottery village, south of Jaljoli river, 75 km from the district headquarter Goalpara via Dudhnoi and 12 km from Rangjuli, under Dudhnoi LAC but easily asscessible by a bituminous road.
Jiten Paul, a 55-year-old skilful potter is now reaping success after years of arduous struggle when at times, he and other fellow villagers were so vulnerable that the very survival of their families were at stake and to make both ends meet they had to work as daily wage earners and also as farm labourers to supplement their income.
Now their lives are gradually changing. Talking to this correspondent, Jiten Paul said that most of fellow villagers are now earning an average of Rs 6,000 per month by selling various clay items of daily utilities, designers flower pots and tubs, earthen lamps and vases, deities, decorative wares and terracotta items which are at present very much in demand. For all their new found fortunes, they owe their success to the District Development Manager (DDM), NABARD Rajen Baruah for his initiative for formulating an innovative action plan through which new concepts and designs were introduced into their pottery making style and also his unstinted and untiring efforts for making all the inhabitants of Paulpara confident and removing the fear and tension from their lives.
The Paulpara hamlet has around 120 households who migrated from Mymensingh of erstwhile East Bengal (now Bangladesh), way back in the 1940s before Indian Independence and they all belong to the Paul community, a potter community. Though the village has a number of very skilled potters but they went into penury as their items had little demand due to substitute items made from plastic, steel, aluminium, etc, which were easily available in the local markets.
Talking to this correspondent, Rajen Baruah, the District Development Manager, NABARD said that his attention was drawn to this sleepy hamlet on his way to Simlitola for a routine bank inspection and after a few days he made an official visit to collect information relating to the village where he embarked upon a face to face interaction to develop a congenial atmosphere as most of the villagers had resigned to their fate. Then the next step was to hold meetings which resulted in creating a friendly atmosphere where an action plan was drawn up and the first positive step in this direction was to revive an old potter�s cooperative society, �Paulpara Pichhpara Kutirshilpa Samabay Sammittee� under the initiaves of the villagers.
The intervention from NABARD with its objective to confront the declining demand of clay items, came in the form of assigning the responsibility to Paulpara Pichhpara Kutirshilpa Samabay Sammittee for implementing 3 Rural Enterpreneurship Development Programme (REDP) (2007-2009) spanning over a period of three years under the guidance of Dhirendra Nath Paul, a terracotta artist of international repute and Bhola Nath Paul of Agomani of national repute. The training was imparted for taking up new designs and create clay items which have enough demand in the local markets and its willingness to support the activities for sustainable livelihood and also to revive their ancestral traditional culture. A total of 90 villagers have benefitted from this initiative.