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IIT Madras to help Tamil Nadu potters develop microwave-safe cooking utensils at new facility

IIT Madras to help Tamil Nadu potters develop microwave-safe cooking utensils at new facility

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) has helped establish a common facility centre to help potters in a Tamil Nadu village meet modern consumer demands such as microwaveable cooking utensils. These products have higher market value and will help sustain the traditional potters.

Many traditional potters’ families are economically poor and are living below poverty line. To increase the earning of the artisans, modern machinery is introduced alongside additional skill and product training to improve not only the productivity but also the wages of the artisans. IIT Madras is aiding in implementing the common facility centre at Perumudivakkam in Tiruvallur district, located about 50 kilometres from Chennai.

With CSR funding support from Southern Region Pipelines Division of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL-SRPL), and Centre for Social Development (CSD), a Nagercoil-based non-governmental organisation as the implementation partner at Tiruvallur, IIT Madras had collaborated with Central Glass and Ceramic Institute (CGCRI), Kolkata, to leverage technology to aid the potters.

Highlighting the role of IIT Madras in this initiative, Prof Abhijit P Deshpande, Professor-in-Charge, RuTAG, said, “Technology development within an institute has to be followed up with a multi-stakeholder initiative. For follow-up technology activity, we always strive to identify needs of artisans in terms of technological solutions. Once identified, these needs can be conveyed to faculty/students to carry out further technology development.”  

Further, elaborating on the benefits of the common facility centre, Deshpande said, “New facilitating technologies were ensured to increase the productivity of clay production and their quality. With a decentralised infrastructure through CFC, the ownership by the stakeholders increases and employment opportunities thrive around the centre’s activities.”

The common facility centre was inaugurated on August 11, 2021, in the presence of various stakeholders including Tiruvallur District Collector Dr Alby John Varghese, IOCL Executive Director SS Sawant, Deshpande, Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihood Mission (TNSRLM) Project Officer P Malliga, Centre for Social Development Director (Kanyakumari) Dr Bagavatheeswaran and Perumudivakkam Panchayat President Balalakshmi Venkatesan.

Among the key outcomes envisaged from this common facility centre, there will be three to four fold increase in income for potters as products from integrated pottery technologies draw four times more than the market value of traditional pottery items. Moreover, the centre will also provide entrepreneurial avenues for trainees through hands-on training experience as well as guidance through training manuals while also encouraging adoption and scaling up of such initiatives in other pottery clusters across the state.

A total of 82 persons have been trained in this centre so far in hard and softs skills pertaining to the production of various types of clay products. John distributed their certificates during the event. Speaking on the occasion, Sawant said that IOCL was keen to support more such livelihood promotion activities across various clusters.

The trained potters exhibited diversified clay products which included household appliances, microwaveable clay products with higher market values, artistic products, cooking utensils and storage containers. The awareness and training programs on producing clay products including microwaveable pottery through the integrated pottery manufacturing unit derived key attention that few trainees are motivated to set up their own pottery units while tapping support from the new established CFC.

Bagavatheeswaran elaborated the working model of the common facility ventre and brought up a ‘training manual for the potters’ imbibing these technologies which was released by the district collector and received by Sawant.

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