KENDRAPARA: The Kerala floods have washed away an entire year’s hard work of Odia weavers and artisans. A group of people had been to Chengannur in Alappuzha district to take part in the annual Kudumbashree SARAS Fair Craft exhibition, organised by the Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS). As many as 20 persons including five women, all artists and members of 11 SHGs from Kendrapara, Jajpur, Sundargarh, Sonepur, Keonjhar, Balangir, Mayurbhanj, Nayagarh and Cuttack, had reached Chengannur town on August 13 to take part in the exhibition that was supposed to begin next day.
However, next day, the local administration asked them to move back to their hotel immediately as water had started entering the town following incessant rain. They had to leave their products behind in the hotel. Soon, water entered the stalls and the area was inundated under 10-ft water, said Pabitra Das, a Tussar weaver from Jajpur. Sarees worth `6 lakh that the participants had taken with them were washed away in the flood. These sarees were produced from around 2,000 weavers from different districts of Odisha. “Due to sudden flood, everything was washed away.
None of the products were insured. I incurred a loss of `8 lakh,” said Solem Khan (30) of Utkal Grameen SHG at Golarhat village in Kendrapara. Solem had opened a stall in the exhibition to sell handloom sarees and with Dussehra two months away, he had hoped to make some profit. Back in the hotel, water entered the first floor and all of them had to stay there till August 18.
The local administration provided them food. They were rescued by a team next day. On Sunday, all of them reached Thiruvananthapuram and have now put up at a school. “All of us incurred a total loss of at least `50 lakh. We will seek help from the Odisha Government after we reach home,” said Solem. Contacted, ORMAS Director Biranchi Narayan Das said all the SHG members are safe and will be brought back to Odisha this week.