The potters’ community in the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s constituency, Varanasi, is set to lead the country with “Swadeshi only” products this festive season. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is training the potters in Varanasi in making earthen lamps, sculptures of deities and other pottery items as part of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”.
KVIC Chairman Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena distributed electric potter wheels to 80 potters’ families belonging from four villages namely Itahradih, Ahrauradih, Arjunpur and Chak Sahjangiganj today. Each of these villages houses nearly 150 to 200 potter families who have been engaged with pottery-making for many generations. However, due to old techniques of hand driven Chaaks, drudgery involved in manual clay making and lack of marketing support, they took up alternative sources of livelihood over the years. KVIC has set a target of distributing 1500 potter wheels in Varanasi in the next 3 months.
The KVIC is also set to distribute 300 electric potter wheels and other equipment to 300 migrant workers’ families in Sewapuri in Varanasi who have returned from other states facing economic distress in wake of the Covid-19 lockdown. KVIC has already trained 60 migrant workers’ families so far and pottery tool kit will be distributed to 300 families next month. This is estimated to create nearly 1200 jobs for the migrants labourers in Varanasi alone. The exercise aims at creating local jobs for the distressed migrant workers so that they don’t need to migrate to other cities in search of livelihood.
Old beneficiaries of Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana present on the occasion spoke to the KVIC Chairman via video-conference. Kishan Prajapati, a potter, said he sold nearly 3000 Kulhars every day at the Varanasi Cantt railway station after he received the electric potter wheel from KVIC under Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana. Another beneficiary of the scheme, Akshay Kumar Prajapati told that he was able to sell nearly 4000 kulhars and plates in the local Choona market in Mirzapur district and was financially self-dependent now. Another potter, Dayashankar Prajapati, said he was earning a good livelihood by selling nearly 3500 earthen glasses used for serving milk at Manduadih railway station in Varanasi. Potters said they were earning nearly Rs 20,000 a month by selling earthen pots.
Potters in these villages of Varanasi have been specially making earthen magic lamps, traditional lamps (Deeya) and sculptures of Laxmi and Ganesh keeping in view the upcoming festivals of Dussehra and Deepawali. The idea is also to dissuade people from buying Chinese lights and other articles during the festive season.
The KVIC Chairman said Varanasi is known for its huge potential in the field of pottery making. “Several villages in Varanasi have already been benefitted under the Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana. KVIC is soon going to set up a cluster under SFURTI Scheme of the Ministry of MSME in Varanasi. The cluster will facilitate nearly 500 artisans to work together at a well-equipped place,” Saxena said.
Notably, Varanasi is an aspirational district identified by the Niti Ayog and the KVIC has taken Sewapuri on a priority basis for development of Khadi and village industries activities and encouraging pottery by training the artisans. KVIC has so far distributed over 17,000 electric potter wheels across the country.