Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government has not yet taken a call on allowing reopening of cinema halls and multiplexes in the state which have been shut since March in view of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. A Central Circuit Cine Association (CCCA) member on Wednesday said they will have to retrench their staff members if the shutdown continues to be in force.
“On Tuesday, the state government had issued SOPs for holding social, sports, cultural, religious, political and entertainment events in closed and open spaces. “However, as of now no such permission has been issued for operation of movie theatres,” a senior government official told PTI.
The Centre has permitted cinema halls and multiplexes to reopen with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity, but it has left it to states to take a final call on granting the permission. Last week, the CCA submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel seeking reopening of cinema halls and multiplexes.
“The cinema hall sector has been going through the worst phase. We have been paying property tax, electricity bills, staff salary and GST from the last seven months without any earnings. “We somehow managed to continue so far by giving 50 per cent salary to our employees but if the shutdown continues, we have to retrench them,” said Labhansh Tiwari, a member of the CCCA.
He said movie exhibitors have made all preparations to comply with the safety protocols and other precautions as per the Central guidelines for screening of films, but the permission from the state government is still awaited. Tiwari, who runs a cinema theatre in Raipur, also said that it will take around a month to restore normal functioning even if cinema halls are allowed to resume operations now, as no new films are scheduled to be released.
Dhamtari-based Shantilal Lunkad, CCCA’s in-charge for Chhattisgarh, has sought relaxation from the government in terms of electricity bills and property tax for cinema hall operators. “There are approximately 140 screens, including single screen and multiplexes, in the state which employ about 4,500 workers. The lockdown has resulted in permanent closure of two famous single screen theatres in Bhilai and Rajnandagon, and many others are mulling to close their facility,” Lunkad said.
The state government should soon clarify when it is going to give permission in this regard, he added.