Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sankranti: Inflation, crop loss dampen festivity

By Syed Akbar


Unprecedented inflation and crop loss have dampened the festive spirit of Sankranti. 
Farmers in all the three regions
have been hit by unseasonal rains triggered by cyclones and low pressure even as the 
common man is struggling hard
to keep the hearth burning.

Crop damage has been extensive in coastal districts, Rayalaseema and parts of Telangana. 
Added to it is the
unchecked inflation and unprecedented increase in the prices of essential commodities. 
Sankranti is the time when
farmers harvest their crop and people cook a variety of dishes in tune with the festive 
spirits. But the joy of this
harvest festival is conspicuously missing everywhere.

The fear of violence over the T issue has also contributed its share to dampen the 
festive spirit. Many families, which
traditionally celebrate the festival in their native village or town, have decided to 
stay back in view of the politically
volatile situation in the State.

In Krishna and Godavari districts, considered the rice bowl of Andhra Pradesh, about 100 
mandals have been hit by
untimely rains and floods. In Krishna district alone crops in 30 mandals were damaged. 
The loss is put at several
hundred crore. The farmers, who are already in debt trap, were further pushed deep into 
financial quagmire.

Cooking oil price is sold at 75 a  kg, onions at Rs 60 and vegetables between Rs 30 and 
Rs 45 a kg. Many families
now plan to have a low Sankranti festivities. Heaps of damaged crop lie in the backyard 
of farmers' houses or in the
fields with the State government yet to purchased the damaged produce.

In Vijayawada CPM leader Ch Baburao said people have lost interest in celebrating 
festivals due to price rise, crop
damage and political instability. "Unless the government controls the escalation of 
prices, the common man will not
be in a position to celebrate festivals, even those associated with the arrival of the 
new crop," he said.

As farmers failed to sell their produce, they do not have money for festivities.
In what seems to be a chain reaction, shop keepers too are hit. Purchase of garments and 
household articles has been
affected in many areas in the State.

The traders acquired huge stocks in advance expecting good sales during the festive 
season. Garment traders admit
that they are not even able to get the delivery of their orders as they fear that their 
stocks might remain unsold.

Normally, the volume of business during festive season used to be nearly Rs 15 to Rs 20 
crore a day in East and
West Godavari districts. Traders maintain that the volume of business has been affected 
by nearly 60 per cent this
season. Star hotels, which used to organise a series of  cultural programmes on Sankranti 
eve, are maintaining a low
profile.

Many families, which had long stopped preparing traditional food items at home, are 
returning to the age-old
tradition to save a few bucks. "Readymade food items now cost a bomb. This Sankranti we 
are preparing all food
items at home. The money thus saved can be used for some other domestic need," said 
housewife Padma Kumari in
Nellore town.

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