Water Hyacinth, also known as Pani-Meteka or Meteka in Assam is a common sight for the people of the land with its abundance seen in almost river body of the state,- right from big lakes to household ponds in villages. For a long time, the aquatic plant was considered only as a waste and was either cleared up or left unused. But an initiative started by North Eastern Development Finance Corporation has changed not only the opinion on this plant, but also has now brought hopes of bringing in a huge economic market in the form of Eco-friendly products designed from this plant.
The project which has already trained more than 200 people, mostly aspiring freelancers, of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura took a boost in December 2010 with a group of 25 artisans sent for training in one of the best design centers of the world, the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmadabad. During the three week long training, the artisans were exclusively trained in modern concepts of world class shape and design, essential for gaining a good global market.
The products made from Water Hyacinth or Pani Meteka showcased in a recent Gallery-cum-Demonstration Center held at Guwahati proved to be stylish as well as at par with the world class designs. The first set of such designs included varieties of bags, baskets, laundry bins, caps and most catching beautiful designer jewelry, which are expected to gain popularity very soon.
If things goes well, the long neglected plant could very well become a economic blessing as a booming industry in Assam as it has also been found to be high quality manure for agriculture. The country’s second National Institute of Design (NID) now coming up in Jorhat promises to explore more of such products from nature and ecology, abundant in Assam which can become a boon for the region’s development. The only concern is that these businesses should not go away from the indigenous to the wrong hands of the Indian business class, as seen in several instances in the past.