GI tag denial takes glitter off imitation jewellery

In March, the authorities rejected the application for the tag, citing failure of Machilipatnam Imitation Jewellery Park Members Association to answer 17 queries put by it during the six-year battle.

The century-old imitation jewellery craft, for which Machilipatnam is famous, seems to be on shaky ground following the refusal of Geographical Indication Tag for it by the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

In March, the authorities rejected the application for the tag, citing failure of the applicant — Machilipatnam Imitation Jewellery Park Members Association (MIJPMA) — to answer 17 queries put by it, including the basic one, whether the craft (product) qualifies to be a geographical indication or not, during the six-year battle.

The other queries related to historical data, proof of origin of the product, product specifications, process and method of production and uniqueness of the craft.

In October 2013, the MIJPMA applied for the tag under the "handicrafts" category through Intellectual Property Facilitation Centre (IPFC) of the National Institute of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (NIMSME-Hyderabad).

GI tag denial takes glitter off imitation jewellery

Despite repeated alerts by the GI authorities, there was no response from the respondents concerned.

IPFC Intellectual Property Consultant (Machilipatnam Imitation Jewellery), S. Ravi, told The Hindu : "Poor communication channels with the applicant (MIJPMA) in pursuing the case is the prime reason for the rejection of our application apart from many developments in the IPFC. We did not go in for appeal despite being given time till May 2019."

MIJPMA president P.V. Subba Rao told The Hindu: "We have not been guided properly by the IPFC. However, I must admit that a serious attempt has not been made by our association.

‘The fight is not over’

The century-old "gold-cladding" method of imitation jewellery has the potential to win the GI tag despite many manufacturers shifting to the electroplating method. We will have to take a decision to submit a fresh application," said Mr. Subba Rao.

In the late 1890s, Appala Chari from the goldsmith community had migrated to the Chilakalapudi area in Machilipatnam to work on the gold rolled jewellery, according to a study (2013) done by Designer Srinivasa Rao Pattur that was submitted to MSME.

GI tag denial takes glitter off imitation jewellery

Around same time, another craftsman — Kammili Venkata Ratnam of Gudivada town in Krishna district — migrated to Chilakalapudi, intensifying the rolled gold production by using copper and gold.

However, it was Thota Venkata Subbaiah who established the first fully branded firm — Uma Imitation Gold, which is still in operation. "The government had set up an exclusive post office for the firm, given the scale of its business. The industry enjoyed great patronage during the post-Independence period," observed Machilipatnam-based amateur historian Mohammad Silar.

In 2006-07, the Machilipatnam Imitation Jewellery Park was established in the Pothepalli area on 50 acres, with a capacity of 236 units. However, barely 105 units have been established.

In September 2017, The AP Pollution Control Board observed the release of water containing toxic heavy metals — chromium and lead — into the drains of the civic body. The same year, closure notices were served on the 22 units in the jewellery park for releasing toxic effluents. Copper and other chemicals are used in the electroplating making method. At least one lakh litres of water is required a day in the park alone.

"Availability of water and a dedicated drainage system are the prime requirements for the survival of our craft. The fight for these facilities has been going on since the beginning of the park," said Mr. Subba Rao.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 12:29:24 PM |

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