Threat looms large over Assam Muga GI

Assam muga hangs by 6-yr thread
Guwahati, Aug. 24: Assam may lose the coveted Geographical Indication tag for muga if it fails to get 27,000 people involved in core production work of the silk registered under the Geographical Indications Act (1999) in another six years.
Though Assam got the tag in 2007, there is still no registered users till now.
“Users” primarily means the families involved in cultivation of cocoons, weaving and even the people involved in post-production work.
There were 27,878 people involved in such work when the Geographical Indication tag was granted to Assam muga.
Geographical Indication is a mechanism employed to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods which possess certain special qualities or characteristics based on the climatic or production conditions unique to a geographical location.
The tag for muga is registered in the name of Patent Information Centre, Assam Science Technology and Environment Council.
It is valid for 10 years, after which it needs to be renewed.
There are two kinds of registration under the Geographical Indication Act — registered proprietor and registered user.
While the registered proprietor of Geographical Indication is Assam Science Technology and Environment Council, there are no registered users as of now.
The users have to be registered under a legal body. Authorised users have the exclusive rights to protect the goods, monopolise their markets and control the prices of the items.
The user has to apply in writing in a prescribed form along with prescribed fee to the GI registry based in Chennai.
“There has to be good number of users by 10 years otherwise the tag will be taken away,” a source in Assam Science Technology and Environment Council said.
“We are taking steps and reaching out to people in the muga sector to get users registered. One person has already come forward and we are hopeful more will follow,” the source said.
The Geographical Indication for muga includes raw silk yarns and threads for textiles, dress materials, head gear, foot wears, ties, motifs, fashion wear, quilt, furnishings and upholstery, mekhela sador and shawls.
“If there are no registered users, then somebody will take away the designs and start using it,” the source said.
The Patent Information Centre has been holding workshops to enlighten the people in the muga sector on the need to get themselves registered so that they can get the benefits of the tag. “We will help the users in all ways to get themselves registered,” the source said. Under the GI Act, authorised users can initiate an infringement action when an unauthorised user uses the tag.
Muga, the golden-yellow silk, is obtained from semi-domesticated multivoltine silkworm, Antheraea assamensis and is found only in the Brahmaputra valley.
According to historical records, people of Assam have been using muga silk since 321 BC.
It possesses the highest tensile strength among all the natural textile fibres and is comfortable to wear in both summer and winter. The golden texture and shine also increases with every wash.


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