The heart-breaking scenes of damaged books and journals strewn around to dry on College Street pavements after Amphan was replayed on Monday, though this time the items included saris, dresses, footwear and other household items.
Besides being India’s biggest hub for books, College Street also houses stores of many big sari and footwear brands. On Monday, when the shops reopened after almost 10 weeks, traders found the stock damaged due to water that had accumulated inside the stores after Amphan due to lack of proper upkeep and cleaning during the lockdown. Traders who were hoping to do some business on the first day ended up shifting saris, dresses, kurtas and other items out on to the pavements in front of their shops so they could be dried in the sun. In many shops, even the carpet and furniture suffered damage.
On May 20, Cyclone Amphan devastated College Street, uprooting several trees and flooding book stalls and other shops. “As soon as I rolled the shutters up, I faced an unbearable stench,” said Ankit Ganguly, who owns a shop selling saris opposite Barnaparichay on College Street. “We had to stand outside for half an hour because of the foul smell. When we managed to enter, we found the saris in the lower shelves completely damaged. The water had receded, but there were puddles in some pockets,” he added.
The owners of Adi Dhakeswari Bastaralaya on 57, College Street, too, had to bring out their stock, furniture and carpets to the pavements and carriageway. “We don’t know how much we will be able to salvage. The furniture and carpets have also been damaged. The whole of Monday will be spent in doing this. We don’t think we will be able to make any sale today,” said Anirban Mondal, a salesperson at the shop.
Though College Street gets a steady flow of customers throughout the year because of the book stores, it is during the wedding season and before Durga Puja that the crowd swells. The hub mainly caters to budget shoppers and offers a large variety to choose from.
The shop owners could not provide an estimate of the damage they have incurred, but members of the shop owners association indicated that it could run into several lakhs. “It is a double whammy for us. Business was shut for more than two months leading to huge losses. And now the stock in so many shops have been damaged. The small businessmen will have to start afresh,” said Narayan Biswas, a member of the College Street Traders’ Welfare Association.
Source: Times of India