Berhampur, Aug 18: Berhampuri pata, a heavy silk sari with narrow borders woven with simple pitcher-like motifs, has been accorded the Geographical Indication (GI) label to protect the 200-year-old traditional product from being duplicated outside Silk City.
With this, the sari has now found a place among elite traditional products such as Kanchipuram silk of Tamil Nadu and Chanderi fabric of Madhya Pradesh.
Under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, agricultural, natural or manufactured goods originating or manufactured in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory, could register as GI. It provides the registered proprietor and its authorised users to get exclusive legal right to use the GI. They also have the right to obtain relief in case of its infringement.
“The GI registration would be a boon for handloom textile manufacturers of Berhampur as it would ensure that only genuine products are marketed and the typical kumbha (pitcher) design of Berhampuri pata is not imitated. We had been trying to get this tag for the past one-and-half-years,” said assistant director of textiles Upendra Kumar Debata.
Last year, the state government had registered two textile items — Odisha ikkat and Kotpad handloom fabrics — with the GI registry. Four more indigenous products of Odisha — Sambalpuri bandha, Sonepuri Bomkai, Dhalapathar screen and Habaspuri sari — were in the pipeline.
The local silk industry would get good marketing support following worldwide publicity of Berhampuri pata. “As the demand for this traditional sari increases, weavers, who now earn between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,000 a month, will get more remuneration,” said Debata.
The enforcement of GI has two important facets — commercial and legal. While the former includes promotional campaigns, quality focus, generating awareness among all business stakeholders and promotion of consumer awareness, the latter covers cross-border protection, keeping a tab on counterfeit products and taking infringement action by the producers.
Silk weavers, however, find no reason to rejoice. Secretary of Berhampur Silk Weavers’ Cooperative Society K. Bhimaraju said there were about 100 silk weavers in the city registered under three societies who were very neglected.
“Ninety per cent of them stay in rented houses. Most landlords do not permit them to dig holes inside their houses to install looms. Three members of each weaver’s family work eight hours a day and earn between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,000 a month,” said Bhimaraju.