Srikant Prasad along with his wife making clay cups at his small pottery unit in Amingaon near Guwahati in Assam

Guwahati: One man’s loss is another man’s gain. At a time when the government has imposed a ban on the usage of single-use plastic across the country, the unorganised pottery sector – once almost considered as dying and clouded by uncertainty — is seeing a sudden rise in business.

Take for instance, a small pottery venture in North Guwahati in Assam’s Kamrup (rural) district. Maa Laxmi Mitti Bartan Bhandar, located at Mariapatty in Amingaon, is making all the right noise for its initiative to replace plastic cups and bowls with those made of clay.

Along with business establishments, the pottery unit is also drawing the attention of educational institutes such as the Indian Institute Technology-Guwahati.

Srikant Prasad, proprietor of Maa Laxmi Mitti Bartan Bhandar in Amingaon near Guwahati, Assam

“After the government’s recent ban on single-Use plastic, many eateries and tea stalls from Guwahati are approaching him to order for clay made cups and bowl from his small factory. Prasad also informed that earlier his products didn’t receive so much demand that it is receiving now after the ban on single-use plastic across the state. We had to spend many sleepless nights thinking of our business and how to generate demand for our hand made products but it seems our luck has to shine up after the recent SUP ban by the central government,” said Srikant Prasad, a potter.

Despite being in existence for over a century and currently run by the fourth generation of potters, the popularity of the pottery factory was only restricted to festivals, resulting in low income generation.

Apart from clay cups and bowls, the small pottery unit also makes other handmade products like earthen pots (‘matkas’)

“I brought up my three children with the minimum income we make from this small factory and now they are grown up and married, but we didn’t get any support,” said Kamala Devi, another potter.

However, preparing a product comes with its own cost as the clay has to be brought from Hajo for Rs 5,000 per truck. Whereas, the cost of one clay cup is Rs 1.50, for a bowl, the cost is Rs 2.50.

Interestingly, Indian Institute of Technology has recently approached Prasad for making a special kind of clay glass that will be prepared at a cost of around Rs 15 for each piece giving them a ray of hope for keeping the art form alive.

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