Newindpress, 11th May, 2008
BHAWANIPATNA: THEY were elated when one department of the State Government came to their help to raise their standard of living but the next moment another department snatched away their livelihood leaving them in the lurch.The artisans of Khairpadar village, famous for woodcraft have been forced to lead a life of misery for the past two years. In 2003-04, the craft village programme was implemented in Khairpadar and two nearby villages to upgrade skills of rural handicraft artisans by providing them with training, raw materials and modern tools.Accordingly, cluster approach was adopted by formation of seven artisan SHGs taking 90 artisans in its fold with the assistance of Directorate of Handicraft and Cottage Industry under supervision of District Industries Centre (DIC) and monitored by Kalinga Shilpi Sangh, Bhubaneswar.Besides tool kits, margin money was provided to avail of bank loan of Rs. 50,000 to one group and Rs. 80,000 each to six groups was made available by State Bank.However, the Forest Department raised questions about the use of electric motorrun small tools and other tools supplied to the cluster groups. And, on October 12, 2006, Forest Department officials raided the artisan units in Khairpadar and seized these tools treating these units as saw mills since they were being run by motor.They claimed that by using these tools without a licence, Orissa Saw Mill and Saw Pit Act, 1991, was being violated. Although the Kalahandi Collector on November 30, 2006, in a letter to Principal Secretary, Forest and Environment Department and Secretary, Industries (Handicrafts & Handlooms), urged to solve the problem soon, no step has been taken so far.In the letter, it was stated that without mechanisation, it will not be possible on the part of the artisans to manufacture valueadded products and that the applicability of the Orissa Saw Mill and Saw Pit Act should be considered in its spirit. Contacted, DIC GM Er. Parameswar Nayak and Cottage Industry in-charge Nabin Patra promised that the impasse will be broken soon.