Rural Industries Minister P. Mohan inaugurated the year-long training programme on the carving of wooden sculptures at Vijayapuram in Chinna Salem block recently. Ten budding craftsmen would undergo the training in the traditional art.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Mohan said that the fresh hands would be trained on this art under the aegis of the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation (Poompuhar). Experts from Mahabalipuram would initiate the novices into the wood-carving skills.

Mr. Mohan said that the raw materials and tools required would be provided to the trainees by the government.

Besides this, they would also be getting a monthly stipend of Rs. 2,500 and a certificate on successful completion of the training.

The Minister noted that the craftsmen in the region comprising Kallkurichi, Thammampatti, Arumbavur and Chinna Salem were traditionally involved in producing exquisite wooden sculptures.

The training programme was being organised in pursuant to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s announcement to support the craftsmen who were pursuing such arts that were on the verge of extinction.

Mr Mohan further said that similarly the government had earmarked a sum of Rs 30 lakh for imparting training on the art of manufacturing panchaloka idols at Swamimalai inThanjavur extinct.

The Minister recalled that when M.G. Ramachandran was the Chief Minister, he organised a training programme to revive the Tanjore painting in 1980—1981.

Now, the art was widely practiced as the demand for such paintings had perked up.

He pointed out that the Chief Minister had also directed the officials to impart training in bronze lamp making skills at Nachiyarkoil.

There is a proposal to give away an award to 10 best craftsmen in the State, this year onwards.

The award would carry a cash prize of Rs. one lakh each and an appreciation certificate.

For the purpose, the government had earmarked a sum of Rs. 15 lakh, the Minister added. Additional Chief Secretary Sheela Rani Chunkath, who accompanied the Minister, said that on December 15, the State-level competition for craftsmen below 35 years would be held at Kallakurichi. Poompuhar Special Officer V. Subbaian and others participated.