The Telegraph
Thursday , September 20 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Soaring prices make idols dear

Devotion this Durga Puja will come at a higher price in Ranchi.

Prices of idols of the 10-handed goddess are likely to see a major jump this year, courtesy the manifold increase of the price of raw material.

City-based artisans, who have been roped in by various Puja samitis for supplying the idols this year, claimed that the price of raw material had nearly doubled in the past year or so putting an additional burden on the cost of the final product.

“Last year, for instance, we brought nails at Rs 50 per kilo. The same is priced at Rs 90 per kilo in the market today. The price of a quintal of mud has jumped from Rs 600 last year to Rs 1,400. A 65-feet wooden plank, similarly, which earlier cost Rs 1,500, is now priced at Rs 2,500. Even the price of straw, which was Rs 7 per kilo, has seen a jump of Rs 3 per kilo,” said Bablu Pal, an aide of noted city-based artisan Ajay Pal, who owns a workshop near Lalpur. He said that Ajay was giving shape to the Durga idols of at least 25 big-ticket pandals this year, apart from a host of smaller ones.

While smaller idols, which were earlier sold at Rs 5,000 per piece, have now been priced Rs 7,500, the larger ones will be available at Rs 1.5 lakh, as against the earlier Rs 1 lakh.

The artisans said that though prices of raw materials had been increasing since the past year due to inflation, the final nail in the coffin was the recent hike in the diesel prices.

“After the hike in diesel prices, the suppliers of various raw materials like mud, straw, bamboo and wood, hiked the prices of their product. So if we end up selling the idols at last year’s prices, we will literally starve to death,” said Kartik Pal, owner of a workshop near Albert Ekka Chowk.

Ranchi witnesses around 20 big-ticket Pujas every year, the organisers of which reserve anything between Rs 70,000 to Rs 2 lakh for the idols alone. The idol budget for the smaller pujas varies between Rs 7,000-9,000.

“Our customers understand our pain and all of them are fork out more for the idols. We have hiked the prices by 50 per cent, but yet we are compromising on our profit margin,” said Kartik Pal.

The Puja organisers blamed prevalent inflation for the price rise. “The artisans cannot do anything in such a situation. We will, however, manage our budget by cutting down on expenses in other areas like pandal decoration,” said Chanchal Chatterjee, chief of Kokar puja pandal.

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