Sandalwood artisans are in distress due to the limited quantity of raw material available to them. Members of the Karnataka Sandalwood Artisans Association said they are being given wood enough only for two or three months’ work in a year.
Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, L. Purushotham, president of the association, said sandalwood was provided last to them by Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd. in August 2013. “They should give us at least two or three kilograms of sandalwood every month so that we have enough material to work on. But the government is citing a shortage of sandalwood,” he said. He said the quantity of raw material supplied to them had drastically reduced since 10 years and added that the 75 per cent subsidy promised to them was also not reaching them despite the high prices of procuring the wood. “From Rs. 115 per kg in the early 1990s, it is now Rs. 5,000 per kg as per the government rates, excluding transport and other charges,” he said. T.G. Gopal, another artisan, said being out of work for several months, the sandalwood artisans are forced to take up other types of work such as painting and carpentry to make ends meet.
The artisans demanded that the government should facilitate purchase of sandalwood directly from the Forest Department.
Mr. Gopal, while pitching for the artisans’ major demand – allocation of houses promised to them in Doddabidarakallu village – said they were finding it difficult to sustain themselves living in rented houses.
“Some 150 sandalwood artisans and 50 brass artisans were promised houses in 1996. We are yet to be allocated those houses,” said Mr. Purushotham.