The renowned 'Chamba Chappal', Himachal Pradesh's indigenous slipper handcrafted from pure leather and popular across the country, has finally been granted the Geographical Indication or GI tag. The special type of slippers have a royal heritage dating back to the erstwhile rulers of Chamba.
Apart from the slippers, the hill state's famous Lahauli hand-knitted woollen socks and gloves have also got the GI tag.
The development is significant for Himachal Pradesh, a state known for its traditional hand-woven and handicraft products that showcase the state’s rich heritage of craftsmanship, artistic detailing and creativity.
The announcement was made by Sudesh Mokhta, Member Secretary of Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, Technology & Environment (HIMCOSTE). The Himachal Pradesh Patent Information Centre of the HIMCOSTE had jointly sent an application with other organisations including Ambedkar Mission Society, Chamba, to the Registrar of Geographical Indications in Chennai, arguing the case for a GI tag on behalf of the indigenous manufactures of 'Chamba Chappals.'
The state, he said, had moved its case for the registration under the Geographical Indications of Goods Act, 1999 three years back and since then the process has been rather slow.
Nevertheless, Mokhta told Outlook, "It is a matter of pride for Himachal Pradesh that Chamba Chappal and Lahauli Knitted Socks and Gloves - valuable traditional crafts of Himachal Pradesh - have been acknowledged by the Registrar of Geographical Indications by the Government of India".
For Lahauli Knitted Socks and Gloves, the applications for the GI tagging was filed by the state in collaboration with ‘Save Lahaul Spiti Society', an NGO working for preserving the culture, art and handicraft traditions of the tribal belt of Lahaul-Spiti. The area was recently opened to the world after the commissioning of the Rohtang Tunnel.
This is not the first GI tag for Himachal, Pradesh however. Native products like the Kullu Shawl, Kangra Tea, Chamba Rumal, Kinnauri Shawl, Kangra Painting, Himachali Chilli Oil and Himachali Kalazeera already enjoy GI tags.
The registration under GI Act would prevent unauthorized production as well as misuse of the name of Chamba Chappal and Lahauli Knitted Socks and Gloves and discourage the production of these products in locations that are different from the place of their origin.
With the GI accreditation, only authorized manufacturers can now call similar slippers produced outside of Chamba the official name of 'Chamba Chappal', Mokhta added. Unauthorized use and infringement of the registered GI by producers other than those from the region of origin of these products could result in a maximum of three years imprisonment and a fine up to Rs. 2 lakhs under the GI Act.
Mokhta also opined that the GI tag will help to boost the economy of the region by increasing the market potential for products like Chamba Chappals and Lahaul Knitted Socks and Gloves In that respect, HIMCOSTE proposes to organise a workshop at Chamba and Keylong for the stakeholders of Chamba Chappal and Lahauli Knitted Socks and Gloves for formulating an Action Plan for future strategy.
Himachal Pradesh is the first state in the country to formulate a policy for the registration of Geographical Indications of its indigenous products to safeguard the interest of artisans and local entrepreneurs.