Aroop Biswas, state PWD and sports minister on Friday inaugurated West Bengal State Handicrafts Expo 2016 at Milan Mela Complex.
The state government is promoting the artisans and weavers and steps have been taken by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to showcase their products through Biswa Banga outlets, Biswas said after inaugurating the fair.
The department of Micro Small Medium Enterprises and Textiles which has organised the fair expects 4,000 handicraft artisans to take part in the fair as against 3,725 last year. The fair will continue till December 11 and will be kept open from 1 pm to 8.30pm.
After coming to power in 2011, Banerjee took several steps to give impetus to the handicraft artisans. In the past years, colour photo identity cards have been issued to 5.68 lakh handicraft artisans.
Through fairs, steps have been taken to sell their products and make them popular among people. Earlier only two fairs were held by the department. But now six to seven state level handicraft expos are held every year.
In 2015-16 financial year, the department organised or participated in 70 state, national and international fairs where 11,176 artisans took part and the total sale was Rs 50 crore. It may be mentioned that in 2010-11, only 4,913 artisans took part in these fairs and the sale was Rs 23.10 crore.
Banerjee has also revived the ancient art of making masks and this has attracted both national and international tourists. Centres have come up to train the artisans.