ELURU: As Vinayaka Chavithi is just round the corner, Ganesh idol makers in West Godavari district are busy giving final touches to their idols. However, the artisans fear that they may not be able to reap good profits this year as the cost of the raw materials used for making Ganesh idols has increased steeply in the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
About 50 to 70 families who migrated from Rajasthan to Eluru, Tanuku, Jangareddigudem and other places in West Godavari, are engaged in making Ganesh idols for the festival to eke out a living. The artisans have been making idols of gods and goddesses for major festivals over a decade. Most of the idols are made using Plaster of Paris and chemical colours.
The artisans used to purchase raw material for making idols in bulk. Generally, they start preparing for the festive season from the beginning of the year itself.
After the implementation of GST, the cost of raw materials has gone up. The price of a bag of PoP has increased to Rs 250 from Rs 200 in the new tax regime. Same is the case with all other raw materials used in making idols.
The prices of idols range from Rs 500 to Rs 1 lakh. Huge Ganesh idols installed in major pandals cost as much as Rs 1 lakh as they are made after taking orders from the organisers. “We are forced to increase the prices of Ganesh idols in the new tax regime. Otherwise, we may incur losses,” says an artisan.
The increase in the prices of idols may hit their sales also. In the wake of massive campaign to promote the use of eco-friendly Ganesh idols and the rollout of GST, the traders have reduced the purchases of PoP. The decline in the purchase of PoP, the main raw material for idols, has affected the production. According to an estimate, the number of idols made for Ganesh festival in the district, has come down by half.
Bolanath, an idol maker, said: “We are facing trouble with the increase in the prices of raw materials like PoP and colours. Generally, the income earned through the sale of idols in the festive season is enough for our sustenance till the next season. In the new GST regime, it is unlikely due to decline in the volume of business and profit margins. We are forced to search for alternatives to eke out a living now.”
Durga, another idol maker, said: “I am totally dependent on making idols for my livelihood since my childhood. I know no other work. Banks are not coming forward to provide loans to artisans engaged in idol making. The new tax regime has made our survival a little bit tough.”