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Filigree centre finds new location

- Legal hurdles come in the way of making original plot available for project

Cuttack, July 24: The site of the state government’s silver filigree centre project near Jagatpur here has been shifted to another location because of land acquisition problems.

The state government had conceived the project for the development of silver filigree craft of Cuttack including a training centre, a testing laboratory and a sales outlet.

The district administration has identified another plot close to Revenue Colony in Tulasipur, on the western part of the city, about 12km from the original location.

“Legal hurdles came in the way of making the land available for the centre. This land was situated at Munda Sahi on the banks of the Mahanadi. Now we have decided to set up the centre at Tulasipur’s Revenue Colony,” Cuttack Collector S.N. Girish told The Telegraph today. Setting up of the centre has been included as a new project in the state handicraft, handloom and textile department’s annual plan for 2012-13.

“The requisition for the land for the centre has already been received from the District Industries Centre (Cuttack). The process of alienation of the required land for the project will be completed within two months,” Girish said.

More than 500 years old, the craftsmanship on silver by Cuttack artisans has earned it the name of Silver City. Not only does it have a great export demand, but silver filigree or tarakashi ornaments and items are considered auspicious by a large number of people in the state. However, the artisans have been going through a hard time owing to the lack of proper policies and schemes for their development.

Billed as a major initiative to give encourage the Cuttack tarakashi art form, the project involves identification of traditional artisans, bringing them under one roof and setting up infrastructure for live demonstration of the work that goes behind the making of the items and setting up a sale facility.

“Lack of resources and work in Cuttack has been forcing traditional craftsmen to change their profession. The proposed Silver Filigree Centre would be beneficial for these artisans,” said 57-year-old Biswanath Dey, a master tarakashi craftsman, who has 10 to 15 artisans working under him. His son Ajay said: “The talk of the centre has been on for quite some years now. Nothing tangible has happened yet.”

The silver filigree centre project was conceived four years ago to identify the filigree potential in Cuttack and to ensure that artisans did not quit the profession after an official survey revealed that most of the silver filigree artisans wanted to sustain their skills provided they could live on it. But the government’s ambitious project has apparently been in limbo. The project had remained a non-starter even as three acres of land was demarcated by the district administration at Munda Sahi near Jagatpur three years ago. Litigations raised in court by private parties came in the way of allotment of the land.

“The new location for the centre has been chosen after survey of the Tulasipur Revenue Colony land. The required land for the project is under government possession. So alienation of land for the purpose will not be a problem,” the Cuttack collector said.

Official sources said the centre was planned to link silver filigree with tourism and also give a boost to the Cuttack tarkashi art form because it would let tourists see how the artisans at work.

The project was planned to be launched involving both the Centre and state government under the Union government’s Circuit Development Scheme. Odisha Tourism Development Corporation was expected to link the centre with the tourism sector and Rs 1 crore had been planned to be used from the Union government under the scheme to give shape to the project.