Keonjhar: The potter communities living in different parts of Keonjhar district have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are over thousands of potter families living in areas like Nelung, Haladharpur, Buxibarigaon, Karanjia, Tikarpada, Jamunalia, Gopalpur and Pandapada. Besides selling earthern pots in local markets, they also sell idols of various gods and goddesses like Ganesh and Saraswati.
But this year the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to these communities. “Our selling of earthen pots usually goes up in summer season. People require them to store water as they keep them cool. And water stored in earthen pots is healthy as well. But this summer our business was badly hampered thanks to COVID-19,” some potters selling their products in Keonjhar town said.
“To bake the raw pots, wood is required. As of now, wood has become costly. So we have no other option but to hike the price of our products. As a result, people are no longer buying as many products as they used to. The reason is availability of similar plastic and silver products. If they get similar plastic products at a cheaper price, why would they opt for ours?” rued Debendra Rana, a potter from Nelung village.
“Our traditional profession coming down from our forefathers is now in danger. We are in urgent need of government help. Like governments in other states, if our government arranges training camps for us, we can be able to add some values to our products and make water filters and terracotta items. Our products then can give a competition to products from other states seen being sold in local markets,” he observed.
Sanjay Kumar Panda, a social activist and a potter of Nelung village, said, “If we are to take our products to markets, we have to spend. And if some of them get damaged, as they tend to, we suffer losses. Now the prices of our products have increased due to various factors but we are not getting any customers. So we have long been stopped going around villages. Prior to the weekend shutdown, we were earning some money from selling them in Keonjhar town. And that option has also been snatched away by this shutdown.”