With Durga Puja, the biggest festival of West Bengal, knocking at the door, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) imposed in July has turned out to be a bane for the famous Kumartuli idol makers of Kolkata. The artisans said the new tax regime has created a lot of confusion among them as well as customers as the new tax is difficult for them to understand and implement. “This new tax regime is a still not clear. The prices of materials such as false hair, kajal, arms made of aluminum and steel, and sari have gone up.Due to this confusion in GST, customers’ budget on Durga idols have also come down this year,” a spokesperson of Kumartuli Mritshilpa Sanskriti Samity Babu Pal told PTI. The existence of Kumartuli, a clay modelers colony in the northern part of the city by the Hooghly river, goes back to the 19th century. The idols made by them not are only worshipped in Kolkata but also in other parts of the country.
They are experts in not only making clay idols but also of fiber, which are mostly sent abroad. “We deliver fiber images to various countries of North America, South America, and Europe. But after GST, the transportation cost by air or ship has increased manifold. We apprehend that our business would be affected due to an escalation in prices,” Pal said. According to the potters, the cost of clay and bamboo, required for making internal structure of idols, to has gone up. Ranajit Sarkar, who deals with raw materials needed for making idols, said, “We had faced a tough time last year due to demonetization. This year the GST is taking a heavy toll on our business and that too in the peak season,”.
The peak season for idol makers starts from July – when they start preparation for making Durga idols – and continue till February – the time of Saraswati puja.With monsoon season in full swing, the potters need to use fans and heat guns to dry up the paints on the idols, but the possibility of higher electricity bills also worries the artisans. “Our profit margin will come down to a large extent. It means the tough time for our industry for the next one year,” Sarkar told PTI.