PG owners, small entrepreneurs battle for survival in Bathinda
Ajit Road in Bathinda, which till the end of March remained abuzz with student activities as it is home to over 150 IELTS training centres and over 250 PG accommodations, now bears a deserted look.
Owing to coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent nationwide lockdown, the coaching institutes have been shut down since more than two months now.
Scores of small time entrepreneurs, including juice-sellers, eatery owners, stationery shops, and gift shops, who were dependent on students visiting the city from Punjab and the adjoining states, are battling for survival.
Many dhabas and PG accommodations have been closed down in the past few weeks.
Arshdeep Singh Sidhu and Lovepreet Singh Thind, who run IELTS coaching institutes, complain of losing peak business season from April to September. “We cannot demand this, but it will be a goodwill gesture from the building owners if they waive off the pending rent. Bathinda is an academic coaching hub and state should have some relief plan for this sector,” said Thind.
Sukhraj Singh, who had ventured into the business of PG accommodations for girl students two years back, has to close down operations earlier this month.
Sharda Kapoor, who has taken a flat and two independent houses on rent, is also worried about the business that she had started 15 years back. “There has been no income in the last two months and the rental amounts are piling up. Soon, I will have to take a final decision,” she said.
Navneet Goyal, who owns a stationery shop, says order of closure of coaching institutes has severely hit our business. “IELTS training centres contribute a sizable amount to the local economy. I am facing over 85% loss in business,” he added.