Modi government’s hasty decision to demonetise high value notes left a deep impact on the Bengal government’s five-day long Mati Utsav as there was no expected sale in the stalls with farmers having no cash to buy agricultural products.
There was no sale as expected despite the increase in the number of people visiting Mati Utsav compared to that of the last year.
The footfall has gone up this time compared to that of the previous year. The reason being in 2016, the venue of the Mati Utsav was shifted from Panagarh to Mati Tirtha. Considering that the people were not that aware of the new venue, footfall was lesser compared to that used to be in Panagarh. But in the second year of the utsav in its new venue, more people came to know about it and henceforth the footfall also went up.
This year there were around 116 stalls in total in Mati Utsav including some of different departments of the state government. Since it was well known to all that the footfall would go up this time, more quantity of goods was stocked.
Pranab Biswas, Additional District Magistrate (LR), who was also the nodal officer of Mati Utsav, said: “This is the second year when Mati Utsav was organised in Mati Tirtha in Burdwan. More people have visited this time. The sale would have gone up further if the effects of demonetisation had not come into play.”
Sources said that since the footfall was lesser last year, no one was ready to compare this sale with that of 2016. Instead, to assess whether there was any growth in sale this time, they compared this year’s turnover with corresponding to that of 2015 when the utsav was held in Panagarh the last time.
It is learnt that, in 2015, different agricultural products worth around Rs 6.50 lakh was sold from the stall of agriculture marketing department. The sale had dropped in 2016 to Rs 4 lakh due to the change in venue. This time, the sale figure touched Rs 8 lakh.
When asked that how the sale has become double compared to that of last year despite the cash crunch due to demonetisation, an official of the agriculture marketing department said: “Yes, in the first instance one may feel that the sale has become double. But the reality is completely different. If we compare the figure with that of the sale in 2015, then one would understand that there was no increase in the sale at all.
Instead, we incurred loss as the projected growth in the sale figure was around Rs 10 lakh if there would have been no demonetisation of high value notes and it has happened just because farmers didn’t have enough cash in their hand ahead of the Rabi season. People who came basically enquired about several agricultural products and left the stalls saying that they would buy it later, despite of the fact that they need it now. It shows that the sale would have surely gone up if farmers didn’t have to worry of easy flow of cash.”
Mati Utsav was conceptualised by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and it was held for the first time in Panagarh in 2012. This year the fair continued for 5 days from January 9.