Kolkata: Minister of state for the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) department Swapan Debnath on Tuesday said that socio-economic condition of the rural artisans involved in producing various handicraft items has seen a significant improvement after the state government has given them platforms to sell their items.
He was speaking at the prize distribution ceremony of the state-level handicraft competition held at West Bengal State Handicraft Expo in New Town. The Handicraft Expo is underway at Eco Park from November 18 to December 10. Referring to some statistics, Debnath said on Tuesday that as many as 40 different fairs are being organised by the state government at various locations every year. During the previous Left Front regime, around 12 such fairs used to be arranged per year.
"In the past six years, the number of fairs organised in various parts of the state has increased. The number of participants has also increased as the state government has waived the entry fee for artisans putting up stalls in the fair. The government is also bearing the travel expense of the artisans who bring their products from far off districts and showcase them in various fairs," Debnath said.
He also said that various handicraft items worth nearly Rs 40 crore are sold at various fairs organised in the state every year. During the rule of the previous government, items worth Rs 18 crore used to be sold every year. Following Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's instruction, the MSME department has given a platform to all the artisans across the state to showcase their products. Many of the handicraft items have found a market abroad.
The minister also distributed prizes among 75 artisans in various categories. Those obtaining the first prize were given Rs 5,000 each, along with a certificate of appreciation. The artisans who secured second position got Rs 3,000 as prize money along with the certificate. Among the prize winners were artisans dealing in thermocol, cane, bamboo, dokra and pottery among others.
The minister said all the fairs organised by various state government departments see tremendous response from the people. At the ongoing Expo, handicraft items worth nearly Rs 12 crore have already been sold. 53 pavilions have been set up at the handicraft expo, each having as many as 75 stalls.
"We are bearing travel expense of artisans coming to the fair from different parts of the state to encourage them for participation. To ensure that the artisans do not face any difficulties, the department is also waiving the entry fee of each participant. The main purpose of organising such fairs is to ensure that the various artisans from the districts get a platform to sell their goods," the minister added.