Pandharpur traders facing a loss of Rs 500cr due to Covid-19, floods this year
The city had already been affected financially when the annual pilgrimage was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic and now the floods have hampered our business, says Rajgopal Bhattad, president of Pandharpur Traders’ AssociationUpdated: Oct 19, 2020, 16:12 IST
Though rainfall activity has reduced, some areas remained flooded and several were still reeling under the losses, financially and socially, in Maharashtra’s Solapur district where more than 17,000 people have been shifted to safer places due to the heavy rains and release of water from the Ujani Dam.
In Pandharpur tehsil alone, at least 10,000 people from 46 flood-hit villages have been shifted to safer places, while 14 people have died in rain-related incidents since Wednesday in the western Maharashtra district, officials had said. “Things are not good for us this year. The city had already been affected financially when the wari (annual pilgrimage) was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic and now the floods have hampered our business. Most of the traders and shop owners had started preparations for Diwali and filled up goods at their shops. The rain water damaged all the stored goods. Every year, the Ashadhi Wari turnover in Pandharpur is around Rs 400 crore and due to the floods, traders have suffered a loss of Rs 100 crore due to damaged goods. So, till now the Pandharpur traders are staring at a loss of Rs 500 crore this year,” said Rajgopal Bhattad, president of Pandharpur Traders’ Association.
On October 13, Solapur district received over 138mm rain which lead to waterlogging and flood-like situation in several parts of the district. After this, water was released from the Ujani Dam due to which the Chandrabhaga river in Pandharpur flooded and water entered various parts of the city.
“The water level reduced on Saturday and the cleaning process by the Pandharpur Nagar Parishad has now started and even at the individual levels. It will take at least a week to clean all the flood-affected areas. The traders had started buying goods in bulk for Navratri and Diwali festivals due to which there was lot of stock in their shops. Now most of the shops and traders have been affected due to the floods and the goods have been damaged,” added Bhattad.
Meanwhile, residents of Pune have come forward to help the flood-affected Pandharpur city. Sagar More, an IT professional originally from Pandharpur and currently staying at Pune, said, “When I got to know about the flood situation back in our Pandharpur city, I was frightened as my relatives are staying there. I was in continuous touch with them.
The common people are facing huge losses. The wari pilgrimage, which was a source of generating revenue for the city, was also cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic. So, my friends and I have decided to help the flood victims. We have already started collecting contribution from friends and relatives so that we can send some help to the flood-affected people in Pandharpur.”
Demand to start Vitthal Rukmini Temple in Pandharpur
Pandharpur city majorly depends on pilgrims coming to take visit the temple of Lord Vitthal in Pandharpur, for finances. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the temple has been closed since the last seven months, but now the local public and traders are demanding the government to reopen the temple.
“There is hardly any business going on within Pandharpur, right from street hawkers to big shop owners all are dependent on people coming from outside Pandharpur for Lord Vitthal darshan. Now the rain has relented, cleaning process has started and so our demand is that the state government should immediately reopen the temple for devotees. The visits can start and all safety precautions and social distancing norms will be followed and it will help boost the economy of the city,” said Rajgopal Bhattad, president of Pandharpur Traders’ Association.