In line with the rising demand for eco-friendly and locally made products, Tripura’s artisanal bamboo water bottles are finding takers across the country and even outside. In fact, a big push to its popularity came after Bollywood actor Raveena Tandon ordered one last week and appreciated the initiative meant to provide livelihood to the locals.
Taking a cue from the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana, the state had been working to manufacture the bamboo water bottles for six months now. The first batch of around 100 bottles, including the one ordered by Tandon, was shipped off Monday to various parts of the country.
Just ordering mine! Have you? pic.twitter.com/r6b0efE9FC
— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) June 26, 2020
Prasada Rao Vaddarapu, an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer and Chairperson of Tripura Rehabilitation Plantation Corporation (TRPC), is the mastermind behind the project. He designed a number of prototypes, researched available literature, and got some help from Bamboo and Crafts Development Institute (BCDI) and Centre of Forest Livelihood and Extension (CFRE) in launching the project.
A group of 10 traditional artisans, from Simna, Mohanpur, Subalsingh para and other villages of West Tripura, Khowai districts, were roped in.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Rao said these bamboo bottles are far more superior than the products available in the market as they are properly treated and don’t store water directly on the bamboo surface.
“It is a unique project. There are some bamboo bottles from China available in the market but those use cheap and light bamboo columns to make the bottle. Water or other liquid is directly stored in them, leading to bad odour, fungi build-up that might be toxic for the body”, the official said.
TRPC’s flagship Van Dhan bamboo bottles come in two major variants now – copper containers or thermal flasks, both encased within treated bamboo columns. They are customizable for bulk orders.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb introduced them in a social media post three days ago and wrote, “Tripura is proud to introduce a variety of unique & eco-friendly hand crafted bamboo made bottles. The bottles made by the bamboo artisans of the state are being developed by TRPC in collaboration with BCDI and FRCLE in Tripura. The products are being promoted under PMVDVK and NBM schemes. This industry can create huge employment and livelihood opportunity to thousands of artisans of the state”.
Aldrin Majumder, chief of Pegasus Corporation, which is in charge of sales, marketing, branding and promotion, said the product is sustainable, organic and yet meets all modern export standards.
“The process of manufacturing is completely organic, including the bamboo treating procedure. Instead of bleaching powder and other chemicals usually used to treat bamboo, it uses neem, turmeric and other herbal items to treat the product. We are promoting copper containers in them since copper is traditionally known to have many medicinal benefits”, he said.
Rao said nearly 600 bottles are likely to be sent to the Lal Bahadur Shashtri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, while different major trade hubs like Mumbai and Delhi have sought samples to place formal orders. He said there have been enquiries from the USA, Dubai, and European countries as well.
While Tripura has sufficient bamboo cultivation to sustain the requirement to manufacture these bottles for now, the product has added value to the tall grass. A whole bamboo used to sell between Rs. 200-300 till now while a single column is procured at that price to manufacture the bottles, raising the cumulative bamboo price over three times the previous rate.’
“We hope this will encourage people to engage in bamboo plantations”, the TRPC chairperson said.
Currently, Tripura grows 21 species of bamboo on 3,246 sq. km area of forests and planned forestry. In 2019, the state government undertook an ambitious plan to bring 15,000 hectares of land under bamboo cultivation by involving forest, rural development departments and local communities through incentivized methods.
Tripura has also signed an MoU with the New Delhi-based National Centre for Design and Product Development (NCDPD) to market bamboo products. The central government largely liberalised bamboo plantations by including bamboo in the grass category in November, 2017.
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