Srinagar, Aug 7: Kashmir’s copperware is facing onslaught from machine made items which is not only defaming the traditional craft but also snatching livelihood from hundreds of artisans.
With machines chipping in, Kashmir's traditional copperware is losing its ground, rendering thousands of craftsmen jobless.
According to coppersmiths and copper dealers apart from hitting job creation the machine made copper items are defaming the traditional craft.
“A single machine used for carving copper items will render 20 workers jobless, such is an impact of these machines which have been by the Jammu and Kashmir government, besides machine made copper utensils have less durability which is a loss for customers also,” said Umer Mushtaq Lanker, proprietor of Tram Ghar (Lanker Metals) in downtown.
“The machine made copper items are a threat to our traditional craft and its defaming for the whole fraternity. Number of times we have pleaded before the authorities to ensure blanket ban of sale and manufacture of machine made copper items, but so far no action has been initiated as a consequence of which our trade is suffering,” he lamented.
Aziz Ahmad Misger, a coppersmith, says copper utensils manufactured in Kashmir were popular even outside the state for their intricate handmade designs.
"Artisans would work dawn to dusk making copper utensils, designing and polishing them. Besides locals, a lot of tourists would come to us to purchase these utensils," he says.
"But now the machines have taken lead. The handmade designs have become rare," he laments.
Muhammad Ashraf Ahangar, a coppersmith, has been forced out of this profession after machines chipped in.
"I was 10-year-old when I started work at a copper workplace. But when the machines were used for designing and manufacturing, there remained no work for artisans like me forcing us to leave our profession which was very dear to us," he said.
Ahangar is now working as a construction labour.
Pertinently, Kashmiri artisans were known for producing excellent products of copperware consisting mostly of cooking pots and samovars and sundry articles for the household or the mantelpiece.
Pertinently, under J&K Prohibition and Manufacturing of Specified Copper Utensils by Machine Act 2006
Recently, Kashmir Copper Workers Trade Union demanded a ban on machine made copper items and pressed for action against those who are making copper utensils on machines , which they described defaming the centuries old copper handicraft art.
"Total ban on the import of machine made copper items from outside Jammu and Kashmir."
They urged the authorities to look into the gross violation of the copper act 2016 and also requested the police to take action against those who are involved in its manufacture and trade.