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Pune biz sectors hard hit by Covid restrictions brace for another loss-making run

PUNE The Pune district and city administrations announced the extension of Covid restrictions till March 14
By Manasi Deshpande
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:58 PM IST

PUNE The Pune district and city administrations announced the extension of Covid restrictions till March 14. Schools, colleges and coaching classes have been ordered to stay shut till March 14. There will be limited movement from 11 pm-6 am, and restaurants and bars will continue to shut at 11 pm. The district administration had initially imposed these restrictions on February 21, now extended till March 14.

The businesses related to sectors on which the restrictions have been imposed, are once again facing an economic downturn. State and national-level public service competitive exams are scheduled for the upcoming months.The Preliminary examination conducted by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission is scheduled for March 14.

After receiving permission to reopen coaching centres for competitive examinations, outstation students began returning to the city.

“Private coaching classes were allowed to reopen from January 12. The Maharashtra Public Service Commission announced its revised dates for state civil service prelim examination around this time and we scheduled the batches from February 1. Now coaching centres have been closed again. How are we supposed to sustain the losses? Even when coaching centres were not open, we had to pay rent,” said Ranjan Kolambe, director, Bhagirath Academy.

“Our scheduled batches and the planning has been disrupted because of this order. Our students are grown-ups and they can follow all the Covid protocols. We should get permission to operate. While coming back into the city after lockdown, the MPSC aspirants had to invest in hostels/rooms, mess and coaching classes. This decision is putting them in loss academically and financially,” siad Dnyaneshwar Patil, director, Gurukul Prabodhini.

According to coaching class administrators, online coaching is not feasible for competitive examinations. “Our students are from rural areas. Online coaching for all the students is not feasible. There are several topics which have to be explained personally,” said Nagesh Gavhane, administrative officer, The Unique Academy.

Following the Covid outbreak in Amravati and Akola districts and the closing of colleges in Pune district, daily passenger numbers on the Vidarbha route have decreased.

Bus commuters on the wane

“The passenger traffic to Vidarbha has drastically reduced. Passenger traffic to Amravati and Akola has reduced by 30-40 per cent in the last eight days since curfew began in Amravati. Now the curfew has been extended. There are no signs of revival in the near future,” said Prasanna Patwardhan, chairman and managing director, Prasanna Purple, and president, Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India (Boci).

“People are not sure about travelling on long routes. Though an official lockdown has not been declared, It will take a long time to revive this industry,” said Kiran Desai, secretary, Pune Bus Owner Association.

Last order, please

Hoteliers are also claiming that the restriction of 11 pm closing time has been a major setback to their business. “Because of the 11pm closing time, we cannot take customers after 10 pm. Currently, the situation is that we are not getting customers after 9.30 pm. The main business of bars, permit rooms and family restaurants is at night. As restaurants were allowed to be functional, we had called back our workers. Now how we are supposed to pay salaries. Business is only 30-40 per cent of the usual intake,” said Ganesh Shetty, president, Pune restaurant and hoteliers association.

Theatre lockout

The night curfew has had an impact on the theatre industry as well. Producers have had to cancel shows scheduled after 9 pm. Many cultural programme organisers have postponed events.

Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao emphasised on the necessity of the restrictions and mentioned that these are not harsh norms as compared to last year.

Restrictions based on “sound scientific knowledge”

“Mandais and markets are open. These are not harsh restrictions if we compare it to last year,” Saurabh Rao said.

Rao said that the restrictions are not irrational and there is in fact a scientific study done by Tata Consultancy Services and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research on the correlation between the restrictions and the number of positive cases.

“The aim of this report is to reduce the positive cases with minimum hardships (that are restrictions). The predictions of these institutions of positive case numbers were almost accurate for the months of December, January and February. Now the administration has a year of experience. I don’t want to impose any restrictions unscientifically. Whatever recommendations we make regarding restrictions to the guardian minister have to be based on sound scientific knowledge,” Rao said.

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