Pune: The Poona Exhibitors Association, an organisation of single screen cinema hall owners in the city, on Wednesday, demanded permission to close these cinema halls. The association said it is getting more difficult to run these theatres and after GST implementation, the number of patrons is decreasing day by day.
Moreover, the government is planning to implement Local Body Tax (LBT) on these establishments. If the demand to close down the theatres is not met with, and if LBT is implemented, the single screen theatre owners have threatened to go on indefinite strike. Deepak Kudale of Poona Exhibitors Association said, “In order to increase their revenue, corporations are all set to implement LBT on single screen owners. In a time where multiplexes are flourishing and the audience of single screens is depleting, it will be difficult for us to run and maintain these cinema halls, with the burden of so many taxes. After GST, we are also not able to apply service tax, and all our income is going to the distributors incurring heavy losses to us.”
Dilip Nikam of Poona Exhibitors Association said, “Even though we are in loss, the government law does not allow us to shut down these cinema halls. In a week, sometimes we have to cancel at least 10 to 12 shows as there are no people to watch, and yet we have to keep running the business as even if we shut down the cinema hall, we are not permitted to open something else in that place. Out of 34, only 16 cinema halls in the city are open, and most of these are running in a pathetic state. How can we give good service to our audience in such a situation?”
Sadanand Mohol, President, Poona Exhibitors Association said that most of these single screen cinema halls are located at the best locations in the city, and starting other businesses there would be beneficial. “Though the locations are great, they are mostly at crowded places like Laxmi Road, Bajirao Road and most of us don’t have enough area to convert these into multiplexes. Multiplexes need adequate parking, fire exits, side margins, etc. According to a circular in 1993, in municipal corporation areas with population of more than 2.5 lakh, they aren’t allowed to shut down the business but can start another as long as they maintain a cinema hall there with one-third of the capacity of the original one. However, that is neither feasible nor affordable for most of us,” Mohol said.
He said that in this situation the best thing to do is allowing the shutting down of this business, Mohol said.