Wednesday, January 31, 2001,
Chandigarh, India






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Quake to cast shadow on Surajkund Mela
From Bijendra Ahlawat

FARIDABAD, Jan 30 The earthquake tragedy in Gujarat is likely to cast its shadow on the proposed Surajkund Crafts Mela to be held here from February 1.

Although the authorities have got prepared and sent invitations to the VIPs and other guests, the mela which otherwise has been a big draw for tourists and visitors from India and abroad is threatened with lukewarm response, as the attention is focused on the relief and rehabilitation work which has assumed quite a big proportion. Not only the Union Government and its machinery is busy overtime in looking after the relief work, various state governments and its officials are also reportedly involved in the collection of relief material. The mela, which will be 15th this year, will be inaugurated by Governor Babu Parmanand.

The mela authorities have cancelled the press briefing programme which was to be held tomorrow. It is reported that a section of officials and some other persons, who have been associated with the mela, have favoured its postponement or cancellation due to the tragedy in Gujarat and where the work of recovering bodies and removal of crashed buildings is going on. According to some persons holding of mela when attention of every citizen is towards the relief had no sense and local residents may not show much interest. It is claimed that when the entire nation was in state of shock over the huge loss of life and damage to property, the mela would only prove deterrent to such a feeling.

On the other hand, there is a section, including certain officials, who see the other side. It is claimed that the fair could be used for raising of funds and aid for earthquake victim. It is stated that while profits of the mela could be donated for the relief work, the mela could be dedicated to Gujarat tragedy. They are of view that the postponement of mela would serve no purpose as all arrangements had been done.

The mela is not only a known event, but also acclaimed internationally. A large number of foreign tourists visit the mela and exports worth several crores are finalised in the fair, said an official. Artists and artisans from all over India take part in this mela which has undoubtedly emerged a focal point for promotion of traditional Indian art and crafts.

About 500 artisans, and weavers of whom many are national awardees are likely to take part in this fair. But it is learnt that artisans from Gujarat may not show interest due to the quake tragedy. The authorities have, however, decided to put Goa as a theme state this year. The mela, started in 1987 and in 1989, began the tradition to highlight a theme state.

The mela site is spread on several acres and the authorities provide transportation, lodging and board facilities besides organising special and cultural programmes in the open theatre here. The mela is jointly organised by Union Ministry of Tourism, Development Commissioner, Handlooms, Handicrafts and Haryana Tourism.
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