Known for large-scale packaging and trade of rakhi, wholesale markets in Ambala are struggling to make ends meet due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
On an average, rakhi trade in Ambala generates a revenue of Rs 20-30 crore, which is down to nearly Rs 6-8 crore this year, traders claim.
Around 10,000 people, including some self-help groups, are directly or indirectly involved in the packaging, boxing and pasting of rakhis.
Due to a sudden spike in coronavirus cases in the last few weeks, a temporary closure of markets on alternate days has been imposed.
Wholesale General Merchant Dealers Association president Krishan Gambhir, “Now, no customers from other states will visit Ambala. Most of them will buy rachis from Ludhiana this season.”
“Manufacturing of rakhis generally begins in March. Production was already affected due to the lockdown. However, closure of markets in Ambala has further strained matters. We’ve asked the administration to open markets at least for the rakhi season but they say they are bound because of the rising cases in the district,” Gambhir said.
CHINESE RAKHIS FIND NO BUYERS
On being asked about the sale or demand for Chinese rakhis, Gambhir said, “Buyers are demanding Indian rakhis and customers, too, are asking for the same. Amid tensions with China, I expected this season to be an opportunity to ensure double-fold sale of Indian products, but everything is ruined.”
Kolkata is the biggest hub of Rakhi-related raw material and manufacturing and packaging-related activities are done largely in 50-60 units in Ambala.
Another popular wholesaler, Hira Lal of KD Rakhi said almost no Chinese rakhis are to be found in the market. He said sale was down by half due to the pandemic.
“There is no fresh Chinese stock but there is some old stock in the market. We are getting our supply from Ahmadabad, Rajkot and Kolkata. But, due to temporary closure of markets we are only able to sell our wares three-four days a week,” he said.