Rain plays spoilsport for Kumartuli Durga idols business

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Kolkata, July 31 (IANS) Crammed into 8-by-10 feet studios, Kumartuli artisans are hard pressed for time to spruce up and deliver the famed Durga Puja clay idols in less than two months from now. And rain has played spoilsport again.

“Our studios are small so we can only place a limited number of idols there after they have been crafted into the distinctive form. Since it has been raining very heavily this month, the idols are melting down in the water. The paint is running out. To restore them, we need a few extra days,” Babu Pal, spokesperson for the idol-makers, told IANS.

He said the idols are being sheltered from rain with plastic wraps.

“It is not enough. We need some kind of water proofing. Our appeals to the municipal authorities have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

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The Met Office has forecast the possibility of one or two spells of thundershowers during the day.

Apprehending that idols could be affected if it pours even more in the coming days, Pal estimated around Rs 2,000 loss for every four idols.

“Since the water makes the clay run out and the straw filling rots, around four to five idols in each studio is affected. To restore them, we incur an extra cost of Rs 2,000,” he said.

“This is a business of curse (aabhisaap er byabsha),” he said.

Earlier, the artisans had raised concerns over the GST affecting the offshore delivery of fibre-based idols.

“To countries like the US, some in Europe, Russia, we deliver fibre images. We tie up with transport agencies who ferry these idols via cargo ships. But after GST, there is an increase in service tax (18 per cent) and consequently the extra delivery charges will be forwarded to the customer offshore,” Pal noted.

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“This has created confusion in terms of logistics. The idol delivery is usually in full swing at this time of the year but it is slow this year,” he added.



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