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Plea for exclusive tag on state saris

Calcutta, March 7: The Centre has accepted Mamata Banerjee’s request that some of the renowned varieties of saris in Bengal be brought under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Protection and Registration) Act, an exclusive tag suggesting that they are unique to the places they are woven in.

The chief minister had recently written to the Union textile and agriculture ministries requesting that Hooghly’s Dhaniakhali, Nadia’s Shantipuri, Bankura’s Baluchari and the Kantha Stitch variety be brought under the GI act.

“She has also written about the mango products industries of Malda. We received the Centre’s letter accepting her proposal a couple of days ago,” urban development minister Firhad Hakim said at Writers’ Buildings today. “The weavers make wonderful saris but do not get the right price or recognition.”

A Writers’ official said Darjeeling tea was brought under the act in 2003. Once a geographical indicator is awarded, only the produce of a particular area can be sold using its generic name.

After the sari varieties are allotted their individual logos, they will be accepted nationally and internationally, Hakim said. “This will prevent duplication. For example, no one else can make a sari anywhere and call it a Dhaniakhali. The Centre will also promote these brands.”

A Writers’ official said that before Darjeeling tea was brought under the GI act, “tea grown in other countries was marketed as the Darjeeling brew”. “But now, it is illegal to sell any other brew as Darjeeling tea,” he said.

Hakim said Mamata wrote to Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today requesting him to develop a storage and export facility near Bagdogra airport in Darjeeling so that small farmers and businessmen from north Bengal can keep their produce there before they are sent abroad.

“Citrus fruits, orchids, flowers and mango products perish before they reach their destinations as there is no facility to directly export them from north Bengal. If a facilitation centre is set up, it will help in boosting the economy of the region,” Hakim added.