A sign of the times

A clear indicator of the economic slowdown is the city’s hoarding business. The business,on which depends the livelihood of nearly 60,000 people...

Written by NitinPatil | Pune | Published: February 7, 2009 2:42:02 am

Slowdown index : 1,800 hoardings; of every three,only one carries an ad

A clear indicator of the economic slowdown is the city’s hoarding business. The business,on which depends the livelihood of nearly 60,000 people,has seen a marked slump over the past few months,with two of every three hoardings now displaying only the contact numbers of hoarding contractors rather than advertisements.

Much of this is being attributed to the fact that builders,once the prime advertisers,have largely withdrawn as their projects remain unsold. Hoarding contractors also blame the electricity charges and sky sign rates of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

“Around 60-70 per cent of our hoardings are empty but for contractors’ numbers. Nearly 50 per cent of the ads came from builders,who have now withdrawn most of their advertisements,” said Balasaheb Ganjave,president of the Hoardings Association of Pune.

Apart from the construction industry,the rest of the business comes from telecom companies,car manufacturers,textile shops and firms dealing in electronic gadgets.

“The city has 100-150 hoarding contractors and they account for 1,700-1,800 hoardings. Owing to the economic slowdown,people are in no shape to advertise and this has resulted in almost 60 per cent of hoardings going empty,” said Chandrakant Kudal,chairman of leading firm Asha Publicity.

“Also,the Maharashtra Electricity Distribution Company Ltd hiked the tariff for hoardings to Rs 18 per unit,which is simply unaffordable,but we have no option but to illuminate hoardings at night. If that was not bad enough,the PMC has now proposed to hike the sky sign charges threefold,” Kudal said.

“Our business is suffering so much that we seem to be on oxygen. If the situation does not improve,some of the businesses will have to be wound up. We are even putting up advertisements of those customers who we know might not be able to pay the dues,” he added.

The civic standing committee recently approved a hike for setting up hoardings,banners and posters. The sky signs department earns Rs 5.5 crore a year now; it expects Rs 20 crore after the hike.

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