Pandemic hits Ganesh idol makers in North Coastal AP

Deccan Chronicle.  | dc correspondent

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Two lakh idols worth Rs 1crore made before Covid19 gather dust, awaiting sale in Ganesh festival in September

The idol-makers had first brought their problems to the notice of BJP senior leader and MLC PVN Madhav, who in turn took them to Visakhapatnam collector Mallikharjuna. — Twitter

Visakhapatnam: The families of 500 idol-makers in north coastal Andhra Pradesh have been hit by the absence of a market for nearly two lakh Ganesh and Durga Devi idols worth Rs 1 crore, because of the pandemic-linked economic downturn and curbs on celebrations ordered by the government.

The government has disallowed the Ganesh festival celebrations and setting up of tents/pandals for the adoration of the deity in the streets last year.

They idol-makers would approach the state government seeking permission for the Ganesh Chaturthi festival celebrations in streets next month by erecting pandals in strict adherence to the Covid protocols. This would help them sell the idols readied since last year.

“If the government accepts our plea, we will be happy to market them at discounted prices,” said Urumu Eswara Rao from Choudavada village of K Kotapadu mandal in Visakhapatnam district. He leads the idol makers.

The idol-makers had first brought their problems to the notice of BJP senior leader and MLC PVN Madhav, who in turn took them to Visakhapatnam collector Mallikharjuna. “Yes, the Ganesh idol-makers approached me. The government has to take some remedial measures so that their financial problems will be resolved,” Madhav said.

Eswara Rao said nearly 25,000 people including locals and others from Rajasthan joined them in the annual activity of making the idols with Plaster of Paris (PoP) and clay. “The idols made by us are exported to Odisha, Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Hyderabad and Tirupati,” Rao said.

They kept nearly 2.5 lakh idols ready by March 2020. This was when the Centre announced a lockdown due to the Covid19 fears. Since then, there was no sale of the idols. Nearly 90 per cent of the idols gathered dust at the idol-making centers.

“We have tried to make some idols from December last to March 2021, but the second wave arrived and created panic among us. We are now worried whether there would be fresh curbs for this year too,” said another idol maker Srinivasa Rao.

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