Drought-hit Bihar witnesses car sale boom on Dhanteras | india | Hindustan Times
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Drought-hit Bihar witnesses car sale boom on Dhanteras

india Updated: Oct 16, 2009 13:34 IST
Imran Khan
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A large swathe of Bihar's population may be living below the poverty line, but for a small section, the festive season is an opportunity to display wealth.

This was evident when more than 1,700 new cars hit the roads Thursday in Patna alone on Dhanteras, an auspicious day on the Hindu calendar two days ahead of Diwali, the festival of lights.

There was no reflection of the drought that hit a large part of state this year.

Sanjay Kumar Singh, an executive at a private firm and his wife Sanjana were a happy couple Friday, a day after they got delivery of their new car. "We have fulfilled a dream," they said.

The Singhs are one of hundreds of couples here who purchased cars this Dhanteras, ignoring the reality of narrow, congested and potholed Patna roads.

Not all have been as lucky. Kundan Sharma, a government official and his wife Manisha were left disappointed when informed their car could not be delivered on the auspicious day because of a shortage in supply.

"Demand for cars was so high that dealers could not make nearly 200 deliveries," said Ravi Kumar of Alankars Motors.

Kumar said his showroom had targeted making 200 deliveries but could manage only about 100.

"This time nearly 2,000 bookings were made for Dhanteras but not all deliveries could be made. These would be made next week or by the end of this month," Santosh Kumar Jha, an employee of a car showroom said.

Last year, there were 1,629 bookings.

Vau's Automobiles, Maruti's authorised dealer in Patna, made 450 deliveries but disappointed at least 50 customers.

"The remaining cars will be delivered after Diwali. Arrivals from the manufacturer have been delayed," Vau's managing director Rakesh Prasad Singh told IANS.

The 13 car showrooms of various auto firms in Patna had targeted selling 1,840 cars on Dhanteras, with Maruti Suzuki topping the list selling over 600 cars.

"More than 800 Maruti cars were booked through three company showrooms for delivery on Dhanteras," an official of the company said.

Over 300 Mahindra cars were delivered, followed by about 200 Santro (Hyundai), nearly 300 Chevrolet (General Motors) and over 100 vehicles from the Tata Motors stable.

About 300 cars were sold this Dhanteras in Muzaffarpur district with 225 customers returning disappointed.

The Bihar government declared 26 of 38 districts drought-hit three months ago. The state recorded a rainfall deficit of 21 percent this monsoon, which virtually destroyed the main paddy crop.

Nearly 40 per cent of Bihar's 83 million people live below the poverty line, the highest in India, according to a World Bank report on the state.