It has been almost a month since the two bomb blasts ripped the busy area of Dilsukhnagar on Feb 21, claiming 17 lives and injuring more than 100. Though life in the area is slowly limping back to normalcy, it now bears a stigma which has affected all business establishments encircling the two sites.
The Konark theatre has taken the hardest hit. Being a stone’s throw away from the second blast site, the theatre is still experiencing low ticket sales ever since it reopened on Feb 26. “Right now, the movie ‘3G Love’ is on screen, and though sales have increased marginally, they are still extremely low when compared to the situation before the explosions,” said M Samuel, booking in-charge of the theatre.
He added only 248 tickets were sold for the morning show on Thursday. “It is the second week, and at least 550-600 tickets should have been sold. But now it is a shadow of what it used to be, with the area devoid of much activity,” he explained.
The theatre however seems to be faring better now than when it reopened initially after the blasts and sold just 32 tickets.
Samuel said the numbers of ticket sales hover around 250 per show now. “We’re still incurring losses of at least `2,000 everyday,” he rued.
Samuel has increased security in the cinema hall. Movie goers now have to deposit their bags in a room after undergoing a thorough check. “This is a closed place and if a blast takes place again, the damage will be colossal,” he asserted.
The man himself had a lucky escape, as he was supposed to fetch his bike that fateful evening. “I stalled going out for five minutes when the blasts took place,” he said.
Other establishment owners also rued the loss of business, which, according to them, has gone down by 75 per cent. “I barely have any customers now. I used to make anywhere between `2,500-3,000 a day, but now I am finding it hard to pay my rent,” complained Shanker Lal, a tea shop owner, who runs the stall opposite Anand Tiffin Centre.
Although both sites have finally ceased attracting crowds, they still stand out when one looks at the two sites.
The bus stop where the first explosion was set off continues to wear a ravaged, completely damaged look. In complete contrast, the second site, which has been painted, wears a fresh look, but is not functional yet.