Amid pandemic inflicted gloom, Kumartuli artisans stare at huge losses
KOLKATA: With orders for Durga Puja idols dwindling, the Covid pandemic has taken a toll on the artisans of Kumartuli this year.
According to Kumartuli Mrithshilpi Association, this year due to the pandemic the number of orders has shrunk by 70 to 75 per cent . In previous years on an average, the artisans made around 4,500 idols, this year they received around 2,200 orders.
Sujit Pal, treasurer of Kumartuli Mrithshilpi Association said: "This year small and medium artisans are worst hit. The price of the raw materials especially straw, earth has increased manifold along with the transportation cost, but the orders were less. As a result, small and medium artisans are affected badly. We have not increased the prices of the idols and it is difficult to cope with the crisis."
According to Arun Pal, a medium artisan who works at Rashbehari, the international delivery of the idols has also shrunk by around 70 per cent and so we are only depending more on local delivery of idols. In some cases, we have to increase the price of the idols, as the price for raw materials and artisans have increased.
"Every year we get over 100 NRI orders. But this year we received only 20 orders and so the price of the idols that will be delivered internationally has increased to Rs 50,000–Rs 60,000 instead of Rs 12,000–Rs 15,000. As the price has increased, most of the orders were cancelled too," added Pal.
According to Sujit Pal, the artisans are now facing doubled-edged problems. If the price shoots up, then we are losing customers. On the other hand, the price of the raw materials have increased substantially and so artisans are facing the heat.
According to Arun Pal, this year lessor number of puja organisers are going for a theme and relying on simplicity. The cost of the labour has also increased due to the pandemic situation, but most of the puja organisers are not willing to shell an extra amount of money. As a result, labourers are refusing to work in small budget puja pandals.