Patna: An astrologer selling rings and stones and a stall selling handicraft items from Jammu and Kashmir are not what one would expect in a Bihar government-owned emporium to showcase the state’s products, but that’s what a senior government official was shocked to find during recent a visit to Ambapali in Delhi.
The Bihar emporium is located in the heart of the national capital, on Baba Kharak Singh Marg, close to Rajiv Chowk a.k.a. Connaught Place.
Bihar, like other states, had set up its own emporium in 1974 in the national capital to showcase its rich traditional art and craft. However, over the years, Ambapali gave space to local tradesmen to sell there wares.
The Bihar official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was stunned to find a woman, claiming to practise astrology, entrenched in a separate cabin where she meets her clients and sells precious and semi-precious stones as well as rings.
The Bihar products at the emporium, such as saris, were languishing in disuse and lack of promotion. The senior Bihar government official who visited Ambapali recently was shocked to find layers of dust on the Made in Bihar products.
“The degeneration happened over 20 years ago. The astrologer and two other traders not only entered Ambapali, but also signed agreement with the officials of Bihar State Small Industries Corporation (BSSIC), which used to manage it. They were given space on revenue-sharing basis,” said a senior official connected to the emporium.
The financially bleeding BSSIC went for liquidation in 1999 and all its assets, except Ambapali, were handed over to the registrar of companies. Currently the state khadi board manages Ambapali, but the state government is considering handing it over to Upendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan Sansthan.
The state government recently thought of renovating Ambapali, but the three private vendors who were well entrenched there refused to vacate the premises. They moved a Delhi court, which ordered that space be given to them in the emporium after renovation.
“Bihar should challenge the lower court’s order in higher courts. Our state is progressing in handicraft and art. We need a proper space to showcase them in New Delhi, where people from all over the country and other countries come,” said the official connected with the emporium.
The renovation work started around 2017-end and is expected to be complete by this year at a cost of Rs 3 crore.
The plan is to showcase pottery products, Sikki craft, Tikuli works, papier mache products, bamboo craft and furniture, stone craft, lac objects, handloom, Madhubani art, Bhagalpur silk, embroidery, brass works and several other things. Trial rooms for clothes will also be added to the renovated showroom.
Ambapali, after renovation, will retain its two floors. A proper billing counter will be established and the painting section will resemble an art gallery. That is, if all goes according to plan.
Courtesy: The Telegraph