During her last few visits to North Bengal, Banerjee had showed interest in herbs used for medicines and had wondered if herbal colours could be used in designing sarees, Minister of State for Micro and Small Scale Enterprises and Textile Swapan Debnath said.
    
"The chief minister wants to revive ailing 'Tantuja', once a popular handloom brand of Bengal, by designing sarees,"Debnath said. The chief minister was also interested in designing sarees through discussions with weavers, he added.
    
She has set up ministry level and secretary level committees to popularize medicinal and herbal plants in the state and promote their marketing in the country and abroad. Banerjee has sought a report from the committees within a month. The minister hoped that the chief minister's initiative would promote marketing of 'Tantuja' products in the country and abroad.

The state government has undertaken a plan to revive Tantuja to keep alive the hope of 7,000 weavers representing 488 cooperatives under the West Bengal State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society. Recently the Disaster Management department placed an order with 'Tantuja' for purchase of two lakh sarees annually against the previous 75,000 sarees, Debnath said.
    
The state government was also selling sarees priced at Rs 184 at Rs 104 each for poor women with the state government subsidizing Rs 80, he said. Set up in 1945 by former chief minister Bidhan Chandra Roy 'Tantuja' emerged as a popular brand under the state's Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society. But the erosion of 'Tantuja' began in the '90s with the brand running into huge losses, Debnath said.
    
"West Bengal Handicraft Development Corporation somehow exists till now, while West Bengal Handloom and Powerloom Development Corporation branded as 'Tantushree' has closed after being declared a sick unit," he said.
    
The minister hoped that the sector would be strengthened with the sanction of an Indian Institute of Textile Technology at Santipur in Nadia district.

(Agencies)

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