Traditional art of Woodwork Loses its Sheen in Valley
Mukhtar Ahmed (Kashmir Images)
Srinagar: Once vogue in the valley, the art of woodworking has suffered on many fronts for the last more than two decades of turmoil here. The decreasing number of traditional carpenters and the lack of investment according to the experts are the two major reasons for the art to lose its ground in Kashmir.
If tapped to the full, the potential of woodworking in Kashmir according to the President of Federation Chambers of Industries in Kashmir (FCIK) Zahoor Ahmad Bhat is more than rupees 500 crores annually. “Less number of traditional carpenters and not-so-good infrastructure in woodworking created big hurdles in tapping its full potential in Kashmir. We see workers from outside the state forming a good chunk of labourers and carpenters now-a-days in Kashmir. Besides, the disturbed conditions for the last more than 20 years wreaked havoc on woodworking as proper investment could not be made into it,” Bhat told ‘Kashmir Images.’
Pooling in its efforts for revival of woodworking here, Bhat through his industrial association FCIK recently facilitated participation of some 30 woodworkers from across the Valley in International Woodworking Exhibition at New Delhi on December 31 2012. “Despite being a Hartal day in Kashmir on December 31 2012, the required number of woodworkers could not attend the exhibition. But, we are satisfied that many of these 30 people who participated have a bright every chance of making it to another exhibition to be held at Greater Noida from January 31 to February 03 2013,” informed Bhat.
The exhibition at Delhi, Bhat informed was conducted by the Bangalore based event management company---PDA Trade Share. The local woodworkers Bhat added were introduced to the India wood (Bangalore) and Delhi wood through a power point presentation about use of latest machinery on live demonstrations by experts from different word working companies across the world. Seeing a lot of potential for the traditional carpenters ahead, Bhat says latest technology should be introduced and young carpenters should be educated about its use at the different Industrial Training Institutes across the Valley. “We have to done away with the use of conventional technology. There are hundreds of hotels to be renovated in Kashmir in the coming years. The state government should provide training to the local carpenters so that we don’t have to rely too much upon the carpenters from outside the state for building state-of-the-art infrastructure here,” asserted Zahoor.
Other office bearers at FCIK waxed eloquence on the participation of Kashmiri wood workers in the exhibition. “Held for the first time outside the Valley, the exhibition has opened windows for opportunities for Kashmiri woodworkers. Besides, it has enabled the local unit holders to directly trade with the international firms who will later buy their products on order basis,” a FCIK member said.
He further said that being used to the conventional technology, the wood workers, particularly, the carpenters have remained elusive to the benefits of latest machinery so far. But, he added that after the participation of the local wood workers at New Delhi and the likely participation of many of them at another International Exhibition at Greater Noida, things will change for good for them.