Eco-friendly cups for East Coast Railway, thanks to ORMAS

The earthen cups can be easily recycled as the clay used in making them have a recyclability rate of 95 per cent.

Published: 08th March 2021 10:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2021 10:36 AM   |  A+A-

Kulhad, earthen cup,

Railways to use kulhad to serve tea at stations. (Photo |Saptaparna Dutta)

Express News Service

CUTTACK: As many as 30 families of Talabasta village in Dampada block will start supplying ‘Kulhar’ (earthen cups) to East Coast Railway (ECoR) from Monday, thanks to the efforts of Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS). The initiative aims to boost the livelihood of potter families. These families, comprising 20 households of Kumbhakar (Kumhar) and 10 of Teli and Gauda communities, have formed a producer group ‘Om Sai’ under the aegis of which they will supply the earthen lamps to ECoR. 

A woman from Kumhar family
making earthen cups at a u
nit in Talabasta

‘Kulhar’ is a traditional disposable handleless clay cup that is typically unpainted and unglazed. Since ‘kulhars’ are made by firing in a kiln and are almost never reused, they are inherently sterile and hygienic. Bazaars and food stalls in the Indian subcontinent traditionally serve hot beverages such as tea in ‘kulhars’, which suffuse the beverage with an earthy aroma often considered appealing. Yoghurt, hot milk with sugar as well as some regional desserts such as kulfi (traditional ice-cream) are also served in ‘kulhars’.  

“As earthen cups have a huge demand and are environment-friendly, ORMAS, Cuttack and Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) have tied up with ECoR for supplying ‘kulhars’ on a long-term basis. The first consignment will be shipped out on Monday,” said Joint CEO, ORMAS, Bipin Rout.  

The earthen cups can be easily recycled as the clay used in making them have a recyclability rate of 95 per cent. “Considering the current environmental situation, we have motivated the producer group to manufacture ‘Kulhars’ and given them a platform to supply the products to ECoR,” said Rout. ORMAS has provided funds for institutional and capacity building as well as working capital, imparted training and established a platform for forward linkages while KVIC has given the group 20 electric potter machines.

“Under the RURBAN scheme, infrastructure support like a training-cum-production centre was provided to the producer group. Besides, six candidates from the Kumhar community were imparted trained under DDU-GKY scheme. It is the best convergence model wherein four schemes (ORMAS, KVIC, RURBAN and DDU-GKY) have been implemented for the betterment of the community,” said Rout. 

Earlier, the Om Sai Producer Group used to manufacture different kinds of utility items and sold those at various exhibitions and institutions. However, it faced a host of problems during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, ORMAS provided a platform to the producer group to sell earthen diyas and other decorative items on the Cuttack collectorate campus during Diwali. The initiative helped the group to register a sale proceed of over Rs 70,000. 

“ORMAS has been giving us opportunity and platform to manufacture and sell our pottery products. We are extremely happy as we are going to supply 10,000 Kulhars to ECoR now,” said secretary of Om Sai Producer Group Sakuntala Muduli. While the Kulhars will be supplied on a weekly basis, the ECoR has made an agreement to pay Rs 1.60 per earthen cup, she added.


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