Agra has reported over 800 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus to date, including 27 casualties owing to the infection.
A containment area in Agra photographed on April 4 (Photo Credits: PTI)
With the nationwide lockdown to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus extended till May 31, Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the most important Muslim festivals, is set to overlap with the fourth phase of the lockdown on May 23.
This time around, the lockdown is expected to affect businesses in Agra during the Eid season to the tune of at least Rs 150 crore.
Footwear, garments, artificial jewelry and cosmetics are all industries that look forward to the festivities of Eid, but this year, almost no business will be transacted in the markets of Agra since the city has been marked as a red zone owing to a high number of Covid-19 cases.
According to market sources, for Agra’s footwear businesses, Eid and Diwali are two festivals when customers flock to shops. Shoes manufactured in Agra’s 5,000 or so factories are sold across the country.
Footwear manufacturer Rashid Qureshi said that shoes worth over Rs 75 crores are sold on Eid and Diwali alone, but this Eid, the business is effectively zero.
Imitation Jewelry Association President Ritesh Kumar told India Today that Agra is a major hub of artificial jewelry manufacturing and most of this jewelry is purchased by people from weaker sections of the society, but even the middle class buys it.
There are over 500 factories manufacturing artificial jewelry in Agra and the festive season is a time when sale of artificial jewelry can rake up to Rs 15 crore in sales, but the lockdown will effectively turn sales this Eid into zero.
Meghraj, a cosmetics dealer said that the sale of cosmetics reached its peak 2-3 days before Eid each year and sales around the festive season could go up to as high as Rs 10-15 crore but restrictions this year could result to barely 5-10 per cent of earlier sales volumes.
Social activist Vijay Upadhyay said that businesses all over the country have been affected but the effect of the lockdown on the biggest festival of Muslims is considerable. However, the focus of the country is on ending the threat of the novel coronavirus and for this noble purpose, the sacrifice of festivities should be ignored for one year.