Almost a dozen single-screen cinema halls are set to re-open with the government coming to the aid of the dying traditional halls.
Of the 152 single-screen halls, only 32 are currently running across Jharkhand.
The bleak picture can be attributed to government apathy and tax
In an order to revive these halls, state finance minister Rajendra Prasad Singh on Friday announced several relief schemes for single-screen halls — including slashing of entertainment tax from 16% to 8% and from 6% to 2%, respectively, for different categories.
Besides, Prasad announced that the maintenance charge per ticket would be doubled and the provision of Indian News Reel (INR) would be withdrawn.
"Encouraged with the announcement, I have decided to re-open Sushant Talkies Govindpur, which was closed for past several years," said Prashant Singh, who is also the owner of Puja Talkies, Dhanbad.
Harendra Talkies Harina and six other halls across Jharkhand also plan to re-open within a month, while Swastik Talkies Katras and Kalpana Talkies Sindri recently resumed services as state government had assured them relief in the budget
"Government should not delay implementation of the announcement. I hope the government's efforts will help in the re-opening of about 50% of the closed cinema halls in the state," said Nirmal Shahabadi, president of the Jharkhand Cinema Exhibitors' Association (JCEA).
The government should also reduce the number of shows under the tax net, said Shahabadi, an owner of Ray Talkies.
Currently, we pay 11% of the total gross collection on 13 shows out of 28 shows in a week," he said.
However, an official of the commercial tax department told Hindustan Times that the department was yet to decide on the number of shows in a week.
"But number of shows would not be a burden for the hall owners," the official said.
More than 50% of the traditional single-screen cinema halls had closed by the year 2000.
The situation worsened after 2001 with a hike in entertainment tax, and entry of direct-to-home (DTH) service and multiplexes.
maintenance charge and INR was also as big problem for
single-screen cinema hall owners.
"After introduction of the digital system in single-screen cinema, INR was a burden on us. We pay 1% of the total gross collection annually for INR," said Gopal Agarwal, JCEA general secretary.
"INR is a form of government advertisement."
He said extending the licence period from one year to three years was another big relief for cinema hall owners.