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Bamboo growers finding it hard to eke out a living

The Hindu, New Delhi, September 19, 2014

 

Members of the Telangana State Medari Sangham (TSMS) said that the bifurcation of the State had impacted artisans making bamboo artefacts in Telangana because they depend on the bamboo grown in Badrachalam forest area, most of which has now gone to Andhra Pradesh. Speaking to The Hindu, a 70-year-old artisan, Jorreegala Ramalingaiah, said that now they had to pay taxes to both the States while buying bamboo from AP. He said the government provides about 150 bamboos at a subsidised rate to each artisan, but each of them uses at least 2,000 bamboos every year. The cost of each subsidised bamboo is Rs. 45 while the price of bamboo purchased in the open market is around Rs. 65. Saying that earlier they did not have to pay tax on purchasing bamboos, Medari Sangham district president K. Ravi added that now they had to pay taxes to both the AP and TS governments.

 

He further said that they were finding it difficult to eke out a livelihood by selling the artefacts, owing to stiff competition from plastic artefacts and household items in the market. Mr. Ravi said that the plastic items were available at a much cheaper rate compared to bamboo ones. However, he emphasised that bamboo artefacts cause no damage to the environment unlike their plastic counterparts. The members of the organisation also appealed to the government to grow bamboo in 100 acres of land in each mandal to support them. As a short-term measure, they appealed to the government to waive transport tax by recognising bamboo as grass, excluding it from the ‘tree’ category. Urging the Centre to encourage bamboo growing, the members also requested it to establish a National Bamboo Development Board besides banning the use of plastic.

 

They also petitioned the government to provide 2,000 bamboos to each artisan at a subsidised rate besides encouraging the use of bamboo in day to day work at Singareni Collieries. Marking World Bamboo Day, the artisans organised an exhibition with bamboo artefacts at clock tower centre, which attracted a huge number of people in town, here on Thursday.