Samba (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], June 5 (ANI): As small businesses and daily wage earners are among the worst hit in the second wave of COVID-19, a similar tale was narrated by bamboo artists in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba, which is known for its traditional paintings and crafts.
Many families in Samba, who found a way out of unemployment as creators of exclusive bamboo products, have been hit hard by the restrictions imposed due to the ongoing pandemic.
In Samba, families from villages of Jalpar, Samlah, Katera, Sangwali and Bardhan, have been making living by selling bamboo products. However, with the lockdown in place, these families were unable to sell their items and had to face a hard time to make ends meet.
The locals have learned the skill of making bamboo products like baskets, chairs and dustbins from their elders.
Speaking to ANI, Ashok Kumar, a craftsman from Ketera village in Samba, said, "We are finding it very difficult to sell our items in this lockdown. With all markets closed, and transport shut, neither we can sell products made by us in our area, nor we can send it out to nearby areas."
"We are working every day, making more and more items...but where do we sell them?" he asked.
Ashok has been working as a bamboo craftsman for more than 50 years now. He also passed on the skill as a family heirloom to his sons and has also worked as a teacher in the handloom department.
"My entire family works together in this business, and we were doing fine. But the lockdown has left us in dire straits. We have never faced a situation as bad as this, it is now becoming very hard for us to survive without income," he added.
Hoping that the government would come forward to help artisans like him, Ashok said, "Our only hope is the government now. I request them to ease the lockdown so that we can at least start selling our goods".
Another craftsman from Bardhan village, Ramesh Kumar said, "Earlier, it was very easy for us to sell our goods. People were keen on buying hand-made items even locally. I have gone to many exhibitions all over the nation, on behalf of the handloom department...it was very easy to sell items there."
He also told ANI that he earned good profit from the exhibitions, but due to the lockdown, the entire industry has come to a standstill. "With the work coming to a standstill, it is very difficult for us to survive", he added.
Last year, Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh had said that three Bamboo Clusters will be developed in Jammu, Katra and Samba areas for making of Bamboo basketry, Agarbatti and Bamboo Charcol.
He had added this initiative will provide direct employment to nearly 25,000 people. (ANI)