Stall owners selling crackers had to wind up following dip in sales

The Samaikyandhra movement cast a shadow over the festive mood during Deepavali in West Godavari district on Sunday.

The scene at the outlets selling firecrackers at the Indoor Stadium in the city manifested the lacklustre public mood.

There was no usual hustle and the bustle and there were no jostling and pushing of crowds either at the stadium unlike in the past..

A typical ambience marked by eerie silence prevailed in the city with no bursting of crackers until nightfall.

The activities at the fire station centre, the venue of the Samaikyandhra protests, were however exceptional.

Prabhu, a trader, was forced to wind up his stall by Sunday noon following a dip in sales. He rented a stall for sale of firecrackers by paying a sum of Rs75,000 to the district administration towards rent, sales tax, and the other taxes.

His business turnover in the last two days failed to cross Rs.2 lakh. When his daily turnover last year was Rs.2 lakh, it failed to cross Rs. 70,000 this year.

“I procured the stocks by paying huge amounts. I am not even sure of getting back the amounts I invested on the stocks and the rental paid to the administration at the end of the day,” Mr. Prabhu told The Hindu .

Similar was the case with a number of the other stall-owners also.

There were no salaries for the government employees for the last two months because of the Samaikyandhra agitation.

They all received the August salary for 22 days in November. After deductions, each employee received hardly Rs.7,000 to Rs.10,000.

“The amounts are not even sufficient for those living in rented houses to pay the rent for two months and to repay home loan instalments in the case of others,” says P. Venkateswara Rao, chairman of Teacher JAC for Samaikyandhra.

“We are still due to pay to milk vendors, grocery shop owners, and so many others. Deepavali is out of our mind,” he added.

Cyclone also played its part in dampening the festive spirit. Farmers were in a sombre mood over heavy crop damages during the disaster. Fishermen on the sea coast in Narsapur and Mogaltur mandals in the district lacked the pomp and fervour this time because of sharp decline in the catch for want of fuel to power their fishing boats due to recurrent bandhs and roadblocks during the Samaikyandhra agitation.