January 16th, 2012 10:19 EST
Kashmiri Furniture Industry Faces Great Threat
Srinagar: Once bedecking the hotel rooms and houses across the globe, the Kashmiri furniture industry is facing a great threat as the competition from outside furniture companies are mounting and giving the Kashmiri furniture industry tough competition for its survival.
The furniture industry which was once patronized by rulers in Kashmir is now under attack as a result of the changing scenario across the world.
It is also believed that only few people have remained with this business owing to the dark future they find in this industry.
"Our sons are showing no interest in running this industry as it is at the verge of extinction. We are not properly able to feed our families and the majority of the Kashmiri people have turned to other businesses," says a local furniture worker, Lateef Bhat, "this industry has been totally ignored by the successive regimes for its promotion. It could generate thousands of job opportunities in the state if the government takes steps for its development."
With increasing deforestation, the industry is also facing a tremendous shortage of timber, thus paving the way for sales of the imported furniture to the Kashmir Valley.
Sidiq Ahmad Shah, a local furniture worker shares how imported furniture gives tough competition to the local one. "Most of the timber for furniture is imported from Uttar Pradesh popularly known as the Sheesham wood. Sheesham brings its own workers and experts, thus giving tough competition to the Kashmiri furniture industry for its survival," says Lone.
He further said that Sheesham furniture cuts the cost to `50 percent` as compared to Kashmiri furniture. `A layman cannot differentiate between Sheesham and walnut at first sight,` he added.
When asked about the growing popularity of Sheesham furniture in Kashmir, another local furniture owner Manzoor Ahmed told the Agence India Press that, "No furniture wood can match Kashmiri wood on the part of color, design and durability. But Kashmiri societies being the middle class prefer to buy the Sheesham as compared to the Kashmiri furniture."
Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, who used to run the furniture industry started to run the grocery shop, He claimed that the Kashmiri furniture industry would not sustain for five more years.
"It has been the government`s failure to promote this industry which was worst hit during the two decades of armed conflict in Kashmir," he added.
While as some local artisans blame the unscrupulous dealers for deceiving the tourists by providing them the imported furniture in the name of traditional Kashmiri furniture.
"Our business is fading as the local dealers here in Kashmir provide some imported furniture to the tourists and tag it with the name of traditional Kashmiri furniture. Our business is facing a great threat which if not addressed immediately may lead to its ultimate death," said a local artisan, Majeed Baba to Agence India Press. People associated with this business believe that with the introduction of new plastic or metallic well decorated furniture, the demand for Kashmiri furniture has decreased significantly and poses a great threat to this industry in Kashmir.
"We prefer to use plastic furniture as compared to the traditional furniture made of Deodar, Kikkar and Walnut wood costs are relatively low and is easily accessible to move from one place to another," said a house wife, Dilshada Bano. (AIP News)
By Mudassir Kuloo
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