Goa's mining belt takes austerity path during Ganesh festival

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Panaji, Aug 28: The markets in Goa's mining belt have lost the festive spirit as the ten-day long Ganesh festival, the biggest religious event in Konkan, is all to commence from Friday.

With marginal footfalls and less spending power, businessmen of Curchorem, Bicholim, Sanguem and other markets in the mining area are buying lesser stock, compared to earlier years. Goa government has announced that mining would resume in next two months, but reeling under loans and no regular income since last two years, the people in the iron ore belt are forced to observe austerity during the festival time.

"We are witnessing unprecedented slump in the business. This is the time of the year when we could not pull down our shutters for lunch break. But, now the case is much different. There is hardly 50 per cent of the expected business. People have no money to spend on luxuries, may it be festival or not," said Arun Kakodkar of Apsara cloth shop at Sanvordem market, about 80 kms away from Panaji.

The shopkeeper, who has been in the market for last 48 years, terms the current phase as "grave". "This is grave situation. The savings have drained out. People are left with empty hands," he said.

The concern expressed by Kakodkar is echoed in all the markets that used to thrive on money from the mining industry. Traders say the downfall in business is almost by 50 to 80 per cent.

"I get more customers to sell their gold than to buy new one. Gold is extreme luxury. Two square meals is their concern and not gold," said Ramakant Raikar, a jewellery shop owner from Sanvordem village, which is a hub of iron ore mining industry. 

PTI

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