Agartala: With the decision of the Centre to keep a check on the usage of single-use plastic items, at least 200 pottery artisans of Nandan Nagar in Agartala, Tripura are hopeful that the demands for their clay tea cups will increase in the coming days.
The villagers living in the area have been engaged in this profession for the past many generations but with the increase of demand in artificial products and materials, the clay artisans were living on God’s mercy all this while.
But all that is about to change. Speaking with reporters, Samir Rudra Pal, master trainer of a 10-day-long Pottery Skill Upgradation Training Programme organised by the Union ministry of small and medium enterprises (MSME), said that the initiative has been arranged especially for them.
“The central minister has asked us to help the artisans in developing their skills. The villagers of Nandan Nagar are involved in this profession for long and we have arranged a training programme for 60 such artisans here,” Pal said.
The artisans here make tea cups, diyas and curd pots of different sizes and other essential items that can help in reducing the use of plastic items. The central government has emphasised upon the use of things made of clay over plastic.
“The clay-made pots and other essential things were in use even during the time of Harappa and Indus civilisations. Now, we have to use the clay materials again giving them a new touch and also provide employment opportunity to people,” Pal added.
The state and the Central governments are also supporting people and soon the use of plastic would be restricted across all the railway stations making it compulsory to use clay cups in the railway stations.
Arjun Paul, who is in his 60s, said that over 200 families in the area are engaged in this profession and but many have left because it brings hardship and disappointment.
“This is not a lucrative business anymore. If the government can arrange a co-operative body or a stall as a selling point then we might again get back into business,” Paul said.
Suman Rudhra Paul, a 30-year-old artist, said that many people have left this ages-old profession since they have to fulfill the demands of their family.
“The PM has initiated a single-use plastic-free India movement but this is yet to reach people in the grassroots level. Once this is implemented, the business might again revive. The tea cups being used are plastic, but only if the people of the state change their mind and start using clay made materials, our days will change,” Paul said.
Last year, we had prepared around 15,000 diyas, but this year the number has decreased to 10,000 because the demand is less this year. If all the artisans together form a society and fix the price than it might get an opportunity to earn a little high price, Paul added.
Although a bit late, the government’s move to revive the dying profession has brought some hope in the eyes of the clay artisans in Nandan Nagar village of Tripura.
The government through training and skill development process has started distributing electronic wheels worth Rs 24,000 to help them become self-sufficient.