Thursday, December 2

Pujas clock revenue rise in Kolkata, local economy gets a boost

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Durga Puja committees in the city claimed to have made up for a large portion of the loses they incurred last year owing to the pandemic and the consequent economic slowdown.
After the sweeping second wave, as Covid cases gradually came down, business started picking up, albeit slowly, and for the Puja, more jobs were created than that last time, providing a shot in the local economy arm, prominent Puja committees said.Organizers generate revenue from multiple streams, including corporate sponsorships, advertisements on gates, banners, hoardings, advertisement in souvenirs, selling space for food stalls and melas and local subscriptions. For the past few years, the state government has also been distributing Rs 50,000 to each committee. Though the Puja, one of the biggest street festivals in the world, is held in September-October, the preparations begin at least six months earlier. From designers to decorators, from idol makers to priests, a mid-sized Puja generates employment for 100-150 people.

The muted celebration last year had hit all revenue streams. But vaccination of a substantial part of the population in the city and suburbs and drop in Covid cases gave the committees the courage to celebrate the festival, and that, in turn, improved the economic situation.
“The situation was much better this year for all Puja organisers,” said Saswata Basu, general secretary of Forum For Durgotsab, a body of Puja organisers. “If last year the revenue from sponsorships, ads and subscription fell to 30% of the usual figure, it went up to 75%-80% this year. Several factors, like largescale vaccination, help from the government, lower number of Covid cases and improving economic situation helped,” said Basu, also the convenor of Hatibagan Sarbojanin.

In 2019, a research commissioned by the British Council, on behalf of the state tourism department, revealed the economics surrounding Puja was about Rs 32,377 crore, 2.6% of Bengal’s GDP in 2019-20. “Last year, there was hardly any corporate sponsorship and individuals paid only half the subscription amounts. But this year, sponsorship increased by 50%.

We received many ads for our souvenirs and the number of banners also increased,” said Subhankar Roychowdhury, general secretary of Bhawanipore Durgotsab Samiti. The revenue finds its way to rural economy, too. “Artists, idol-makers, dhakis and labourers arrive in the city months ahead of the Puja. They are engaged by committees and the remuneration goes to their villages and towns,” said Swapan Mahapatra of Ekdalia Evergreen Club.

Source: Times of India

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