The potters in Cuddalore are not enthused about the fast approaching Pongal festival when the sale of their products would usually peak. This year, it is a different season for them as they have adopted a cautious approach to their trade.
They have scaled down the volume of their production for paucity of funds. The primary reason for their wariness is the heavy losses because of Cyclone Thane last year.
The strong winds had blown off the thatched and tiled roofs of their houses. All their brittle products, freshly-baked and stacked outside their houses were broken into smithereens by the gale.
Since all their belongings were lost they could not find the wherewithal to recoup themselves. The losses are yet to be recovered, thus throwing their life in a mess. D. Mani (53) of Kanganakuppam and his wife Pokila (40), who have been in the trade for quite a number of years, are in a depressed mood.
Mr. Mani told this correspondent that the potters were still steeped in financial crisis. Therefore, about 20 families residing in the area who are eking out a living from pot-making have consciously scaled down the volume of their production.
They could not mobilise the resources to carry on their pursuit. After learning about their plight the officials of the District Industries Centre have promised them of government support.
Though the relief amount has been sanctioned by the government it is yet to reach them. (Rural Industries Minister, P. Mohan, had recently disbursed the relief to some of the industries that were affected by the cyclone and promised to extend the assistance to all other damaged units in a phased manner).
Besides the monetary constraints, what is holding up the potters is the adverse weather conditions, particularly during the fag end of the year. They could not muster courage to store their products in the open because another loss would totally ruin their life.
However, keeping with the tradition, the potters have manufactured medium and big-sized pots to meet the festival demand.
Though they do not anticipate any substantial profits they are hopeful of getting adequate income to sustain their livelihood.
What is sustaining them as of now is the demand from marriage halls for the set of decorated pots to be kept at the time of consummation of marriages. Mr. Mani and his ilk could revive their normal trade only after getting adequate financial support from the government.