KOCHI: Michael Fernandez, proprietor of Gee Sounds, Mattanchery in Kochi, entered the business of renting out sound and light equipment since he turned 18 in 1987. For the first time in his 33-year-long business life, he is passing through a tough time as he had to keep his three shops in Kochi shut due to the lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak.
He has been paying the rent of his three shops at Mattanchery and Chullickal and repaying the instalments of loans taken from the banks for running the business despite there not being an income of a single penny during the lockdown period. He had replaced the old equipment spending Rs 18 lakh, including a new generator costing around Rs 2 lakh, in January this year.
With the pandemic spread, all his calculations have gone wrong as public meetings and other programmes have been cancelled indefinitely.
However, reports that the notification for the local body elections is likely to be issued on November 5 have brought some faint hopes to thousands of persons associated with this sector, as mic announcements on vehicles are a major mode of campaign.
However, a majority of persons including Fernandez are of the view the local body poll campaigning amid the strict restrictions will not be enough for the sector, which has been remaining idle for the past seven months, to re-emerge.
“The poll campaigns would be held under strict restrictions in the wake of the pandemic. Hence, it would not help the sector to make a comeback. If only two or three vehicles are allowed for announcements, it would not help us. The sound and light equipment are not required if gatherings of more than 10 persons are not allowed,” said Fernandez.
“In the West Kochi region itself, there are 68 light and sound firms and around 2,000 in the district. In each shop, there would be two to three employees. The livelihood of owners and staff has been severely affected.
Many workers in the sector are now doing sales of vegetables and fish,” he added. According to him, the government has turned a blind eye towards this sector. “It is heard that Rs 1,000 would be disbursed as relief, but we have not received any amount so far.”Arjunan, proprietor of Hari Sounds, Kanakkary, said, “The government has ignored our demands including the reduction of taxes of generator vehicles, which are registered with goods permit.”