Friday, February 17, 2012

Feted by govt, pottery artisans fail to make both ends meet

Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Khuian Sarwar (Abohar), April 12
Colourful pottery items, prepared by two families of the village for generations, whose rare art skills have been recognised even by the Government of Punjab and at the Suraj Kund Craft Mela in Haryana, have been scripting their own fate and that of their manufacturers in different manners for many years now.

While the colourful pottery items have been finding a pride of place in the drawing rooms of well-to-do families, both in India and abroad besides being used as gift items, their manufacturers are not able to earn enough to make both the ends meet. They have come under heavy debt burden of late.

The families felt elated when their pottery items including thinking man, idols of goddesses, national emblem, flowerpots, lamp stands, tables, laughing Buddha, wall hangings, fish, masks, pitchers and sun, among others, fetched them the Kala Mani award at the Suraj Kund Craft Mela in 1995 in the category of Mitti Ke Bartan (clay utensils) and appreciation certificate from the then Governor of Punjab, BD Pande, in 1983.

Even the village became famous all over the country as the items prepared by the artisans attracted a large crowd at various exhibitions and handicraft festivals held in various parts of India.

Heera Lal, who belongs to the fourth generation of the artisans, said, "I want to switch on to another occupation which can offer me sufficient amount of money. I have come under debt amounting to Rs 1.5 lakhs."

Kirpa Ram, son of Heera Lal, expressed the similar views. Ram Lal, uncle of Heera Lal, said though they had kept the art alive so far, their next generation would be forced to leave it if the state government or its agencies did not extend financial help to them.

Ferozepur DC KK Yadav said a proposal to develop the place along with other places in the Ferozepur district as tourist hubs, had been sent to the Punjab government. He added that efforts were on to make arrangements for supporting the artisans, who could not get adequate publicity so far.

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