Blasts-scarred Guwahati in no mood to playNovember 9th, 2008 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS
Guwahati, Nov 9 (IANS) Ten days after a string of blasts rocked this business centre of the northeast, the atmosphere is still sombre. Businessmen are doing all to uplift the mood - even slashing movie ticket prices. However, nothing seems to push up the sales which have fallen by almost 50 percent.Joutishman Dutta, chief operating officer (COO) of DT Tower mall, which hosts a bowling centre - the first of its kind in the northeast - said that post blasts, the number of customers has dwindled immensely.
“Although most of our customers are youngsters - high school and college students and young corporates - Rong Ghar, the bowling centre, is very popular amongst all age groups. After the blasts, however, the number of people coming in has fallen drastically, almost by 50 percent,” Dutta told IANS.
“Among the few who have been coming now are students accompanied by their parents. People are just too scared to send their kids alone, especially in the evenings,” he added.
On Oct 30, a spate of 12 blasts - six of them in Guwahati and the rest in Kokrajhar, Barpeta and Bongaigaon - killed 81 people, injured more than 300 and scarred and scared many others.
“Soon after the blasts, curfew was declared in the city and then a complete shutdown was announced in protest against the ghastly act. According to one estimate, the six days of non-functioning left the entire Kamrup district, which includes Guwahati, to battle a loss of Rs.6,000 crore (Rs.60 billion or $1.26 billion),” Dutta said.
One of the earliest malls to have come up in the city and one of the most popular, the Sohum Shopping complex has also recorded a dip in footfalls over the last one week.
“Sohum is generally flooded with people - old and young alike - on all days of the week. However, after the blasts, there has definitely been a dip in the number of footfalls,” said Nilanjana Das, an employee of the complex.
Raihana Rahman who owns a hotel in the busy Panbazar area of the city said business has been on a downslide since the blasts.
“This is the peak season for our hotel business. However, ever since the blasts there has been a slump in the number of customers visiting the hotel - almost by 40 percent,” Rahman, owner of Hotel Lucent, told IANS.
“Guwahati is the business centre of the entire northeast. People from all corners come here to do business; students come to appear for exams or other personal work. After the blasts, people have started avoiding coming to Guwahati which has naturally affected our business,” she said.
That the blasts took place in the major business areas of the city - like Ganeshguri and Fancy Bazar - which are perpetually crowded, has not helped either.
To woo back the crowds, some movie halls have even slashed their ticket prices.
“There are no takers for the late night movies. Even the other shows have a thin crowd. Therefore some cinema halls have slashed their ticket prices from Rs.100 to Rs.50,” Dutta said.
Kasturi Sharma, a student, held out hope. “We are mourning the dead, condemning those who caused so much misery. But this is not our weakness. We will spring back to normalcy. It’s just that we need some time.”
(Azera Rahman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)