THE EIGHTH edition of Chandigarh National Crafts Mela is turning out to be a damp squib for artisans and those who have put up food stalls, courtesy demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
With the move of demonetisation leaving people cash-strapped, there were not many visitors to the craft mela in the last two days, which is being jointly organised by the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) and Chandigarh Administration.
The first five days of the 10-day mela witnessed a good turnout of around 12,000 people each day, which came down to around 1,500 visitors on November 9 and November 10.
A total of 170 artisans have put up their stalls after paying a fee of Rs 12,000 to the NZCC and there are around 16 food stalls offering traditional Indian cuisines from different states like Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The space for the food stalls was auctioned to the highest bidders with Rs 50,000 as the reserve price. Around 4.30 pm on Thursday, a Chandigarh Newsline team found that the mela wore a deserted look.
After facing financial losses due to the turbulent situation in Kashmir, Najeeb, 57, hoped to overcome his losses by setting up a stall offering Kashmiri cuisines to residents of City Beautiful and nearby areas. Unfortunately, demonetisation of currency played a spoilsport for him. “The sale has come down drastically. In the last two days, I have earned just Rs 700,” said Najeeb.
Narayan, who has been setting up his Gujarati food stall in the craft mela for the past six years, said that he had to give food to people for free as they were carrying invalid currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. “Last two days have been a disaster for us. All the food stalls have incurred heavy losses due to the government move,” said Narayan.
The last two days have been tough for S K Gulam, who has come from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, to sell his handmade
carpets. “On Wednesday, I was left with no cash and had to walk to Manimajra where I had some work,” said Gulam.
Yashwinder Sharma, programme officer of NZCC, said that the decline in footfall was due to unavoidable circumstances. He, however, hoped that the number of visitors would increase from Friday.