NE Expo ends on sad note; artisans left with grievances

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New Delhi, Feb 19 (UNI) As the curtains fell on the 5th North East Trade Expo here yesterday, the artisans from rural North East who displayed their exquisite art works were left with a trail of grievances, because they had to cope with their daily expenses without any assistance and the dwindled sales they faced.

"The Government is not paying us anything for the daily allowances. In earlier years, we were given both Personal Allowances (PA) and Daily Allowances (DA), but this time only the PA has been given to us, for which we are facing problems here meeting the daily expenses of transportation, staying in hotels, which is not cheap for the common man,'' complained Pradeep Das, a craftsman from Barpeta district of Assam.

In the capital on an invitation by the ministry for exhibiting his exquisite bamboo works, Das further averred, "Very few people are visiting the expo at the NSIC ground in south Delhi's Kalkaji this time, may be for the reason that the venue is far for the people of Central and New Delhi. We are also facing problems in commuting from the places where we are staying right now".

Eighteen-year-old Raja also told UNI that complaints and requests have been sent to the Government for paying the allowances and'' if they don't, it won't be possible for many of us to exhibit our works here next time.'' Sales nose-dived in comparison with the last year figures, in a disappointment to the craftsmen who were already under the pressure of surviving in the Capital with their meager resources.

Sitting cozily, knitting a pair of pink woolen shoe Manipur's M Pratima Devi, selling woolen shoes for ladies and children leisurely said the sale was very poor this time even though the intricately-made pair of shoes cost only Rs 150.

Ranjan Das from Tripura had a sad tale.

According to him, he was caught by some policemen in the train with his instruments to sharpen and make fine knives of bamboo and he was only released after greasing their palms.

"After all this, the expo too failed to give me a reason to smile due to all kinds of problems and I think, I will not be coming here the next time," added Ranjan.

There were a number of other craftsmen too who contended that they would re-think about coming here in the present scenario.

B C Upreti, the official incharge of North Eastern Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation Ltd (NEHHRC) in Delhi, said no DA had been given to about 80, of the total 200, artisans invited from the rural areas of the North Eastern states.

''I am aware of the problems which these artisans are facing, as no DA is paid to them but our corporation is working under the Ministry of DONER. We can't go against the Government's policy, so only PA will be paid to them, '' added Mr Upreti.

UNI PY RP KP1620

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