Jewellery shops open sans customers, the city’s gold hub at Bowbazar is bereft of its usual glitter. After the implementation of ‘Unlock 1.0,’ like other markets of Kolkata, the jewellery market is also waiting for customers hoping sales to pick up soon.
Centuries old dilapidated buildings housing jewellery showrooms wear a deserted look while narrow, congested lanes and bylanes accommodating workshops, remain forlorn, without the usual bustle.
Men and women flocking jewellery shops to buy gold for an impending wedding, is a rare sight at the market which has remained a bride’s heaven for centuries.
Crippled by the series of collapse of buildings due to the tunnelling work beneath the gold market, followed by mammoth losses during peak season of Dhanteras and Poila Baisakh (Bengali New Year), the revival of sufficient income for jewellers of Bowbazar, is still a distant dream.
The period after August last year has been particularly bad for a large number of jewellers in the area.
Arguably one of the busiest gold hubs of the state, with more than 1000 jewellery showrooms and workshops, provides means of livelihood to over 2,500 artisans and goldsmiths.
The centuries old gold market of the city has seen a drastic fall in sales during the past few months. Even after the reopening of shops, the gold traders have not seen a day with good income.
“Since the reopening of the markets, we have not been able to one article a day,” said a jeweller of Bowbazar. With the opening of shops, our daily expenditure on the staff, electricity bill and miscellaneous things remain the same but the sales have gone down in leaps and bounds,” rued the jeweller who claimed that the losses in trade was unforeseen.
Another gold trader who has a shop which is more than half a century old, added, “Forget about new customers, the situation is critical that we have lost 70 per cent of our old clients. Several customers who were to buy ornaments by paying instalments, have also refused to pay further.”
This apart, the jewellery hub is facing the crisis of shortage of skilled manpower. The artisans who had left for their native places mainly Domjur, Belgharia and other parts of the state, are yet to return to their workplace. The workshop owners, in absence of artisans are unable to resume work creating a shortage of jewellery stock. The working president of Swarna Shilpa Bachao Committee,
Samar Kumar Dey, said, “Our sales has been reduced to 20 per cent while the expenditure remains the same. We have written to the central government asking for financial assistance. Unless we are provided with some financial help, the traders will not be able to survive.”