Stone artisans in crisis as demand for stone wheel of watermill declines
By Pratik Ichchhuk Sharma, Salyan, Nov. 27: With the increment in the usage of modern mills for grinding and threshing purposes, the demand for stone wheel of watermill has spiraled down.
Stone artisans who have sustained by making stone wheel have been facing difficulties at present because of the gradual disappearance in the use of watermill.
All those who embraced carving grinding slate or stone wheel of watermill business are now turning jobless as there is no work to do.
Pune Raule, a resident of Falate, Siddhakumakha Rural Municipality-3, has been carving stone wheel for 43 years. But, now, at this old age, he has to think a way to pass his time and run his family because of lack of demand for the stone wheel.
Pune said, “I have been into the making stone wheel since I was 16 years old, but, now, I have no job and my skill has turned useless."
Pune made over a hundred thousand stone wheel from a single stone mine and he supported his family in the last four decades. However, he is now finding it difficult to run his family because of lack of market and job in water mill sector.
Similarly, Bikram Raule of Falate, also used to run his family by making water mill. He along with all his family members were involved in making the stone wheel.
"I used to be busy from early morning in the past to make stone wheel and traditional grinding stone slate from a stone mine near my home. But now I get no demand for even a single stone wheel even in a month," he said.
In the past, a Raule family would make Rs. 50,000 a month by making stone grinding items such as stone wheel, stone grinding slate.
Because of the lack of demand for stone grinding items, traditional occupation of 25 families is now in danger as electric mills have displaced all traditional water mills.
The stone wheel made here used to be sold in the nearby districts including Rolpa, Rukum and Jagorkot.
A pair of stone wheel would cost Rs. 20,000-60,000. There are three stone mines at Phalate alone from where once could get hard and strong stone to make the wheel for water mills.
Chitra Bahadur Chalaune, Chairman of Siddhakumakh Rural Municipality, said that he was ready to help the water mill entrepreneurs if they ask for the support and would make a concrete plan to manage it.