Local potters at a market in Siliguri in north Bengal

Siliguri: With Diwali around the corner, local potters in Siliguri are spending sleepless nights. They fear losses in business owing to availability of cheaper, artificial products smuggled from the across the border.

Palpara near Matigara on the outskirts of Siliguri is the worst affected. For decades, potters in the area have been selling earthen products. During the festive season, particularly, they look forward to a spike in business. In the past few years, however, the situation has been quite different.

Subash Pal, who runs a shop in the area, said, “Every Diwali, Indian homes are lit by traditional earthen lamps. But during the past couple of years, people have been attracted towards the cheaper Chinese lights available in the market. This has been causing heavy losses to local potters.”

Binita Pal, another shopkeeper, said: “Only a few people come to buy ‘diyas’, that too in small numbers and for puja purposes. However, when it comes to decoration, people prefer to the buy the cheaper Chinese products.”

Meanwhile, the potters have made an appeal to the state government and the local authorities to take initiatives to protect the traditional business and save the lives of several people who are into this business for decades.

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