Grand idea suffers lack of promotion
IT WAS billed as Bhopal?s answer to the hip and stylish Dilli Haat of the national capital. It got off to an extravagant start last year, raising hopes of a good place to buy and experience ethnic chic.Updated: Feb 27, 2006 13:57 IST
IT WAS billed as Bhopal’s answer to the hip and stylish Dilli Haat of the national capital. It got off to an extravagant start last year, raising hopes of a good place to buy and experience ethnic chic.
A few months down the line, Bhopal Haat has lost steam. Since December last year, the Haat venue at MP Nagar has been virtually deserted. Only a four-day small fair was held in the intervening time for Self-Help Groups between February 11 and 15.
Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar while inaugurating the Bhopal Haat last year had said it was envisaged as an ambitious project that would encourage and provide necessary marketing infrastructure to master craftsmen and artistes.
He also promised stalls at the Haat would remain occupied for most part of the year. The Haat was kicked off with a lot of fanfare when it played host to the 10-day annual regional Saras Mela 2005.
The response to the Mela was not exactly stupendous, but prompted the department to plan a calendar until March 2006. The calendar provided for 12 fairs one every month of the year. However, only seven fairs have been held and March is already here.
The project was an excellent move to ensure a market for rural artisans, but the initial enthusiasm during its launch has failed to match promotional drive. As a result, Bhopal Haat is gradually falling into oblivion, unless the department does something drastic to revive it.
One obvious disadvantage that Bhopal Haat suffers vis-à-vis other favourite fair venues like Bhopal Utsav Mela or Gauhar Mahal is acute paucity of space for proper parking. There are other handicaps too, like distance from the main City and smallness of the venue. These disadvantages adversely affect marketability of the products on sale.
A trader who participated in the Swarozgar Mela organised at the complex last July, said the remoteness of the Bhopal Haat was a major hurdle in attracting crowd for these fairs.
An incense stick manufacturer from Panna who participated in a similar fair organised at Bhopal Haat, blamed various trader associations for not promoting the Haat properly. He said the initiative was not just the responsibility of the Government but also of the participating craftsmen.
Traders said they still prefer participating in the Bhopal Utsav Mela or the fairs organised at Gohar Mahal because these venues have already established clientele, and also because they were better planned and promoted.
Some craftsmen feel promoters of Bhopal Haat should strive to convert disadvantages into opportunities by making it a niche market.
“We probably failed to notice that Dilli Haat is an Inter State Commercial Hub. This most essential fact is missing in its supposed replica constructed here,” says a craftsman.
Perhaps what the rural development department should do is to seek greater cooperation with Culture and Tourism departments which, in turn, should contact their counterparts in other states.
In making an Inter State Commercial Hub (ISCH) where each state could be allotted its permanent respective shops, the Rural Development Department could not just ensure regular functioning of the Haat but also make an exemplary set up. The ISCH would give a permanent source of employment to rural artisans from all states.
In addition to this, the sale from these shops would generate enough revenue for maintenance of the complex. Perhaps even more, augment State’s revenue.
An official associated with the Haat admitted they do not have data to show exact figures of craftsmen and traders who benefited from Bhopal Haat, nor do they have the figure of revenue generated through it.
First Published: Feb 27, 2006 13:57 IST