Pune: The Maval Business Association has demanded that 31 tourist destinations including Lonavala and Khandala in Maval tehsil should be reopened for business immediately to bring the rural economy back on track.
Presently all these tourist destinations have been banned for tourist movement. The association has demanded that the ban be lifted immediately and all businesses and industries in the areas be started at full capacity. A statement in this regard has also been given to Maval MLA Sunil Shelke.
A meeting of traders and professionals was held in Karla to discuss the issue. Office bearers of Maval Business Association Prasad Bagwe, Bhausaheb Hulawale, Pratap Dimle, Niranjan Botre, Sanjay Deokar, Satish More, Vijay Tikone, Santosh Yeole, Vicky Bagwe, Kisan Yeole, Sanjay More and others attended the meeting.
Maval is rich in natural resources. The economy here is mainly dependent on tourism in the rural areas of Maval. Many forts, ancient caves, lakes as well as famous places attract millions of tourists. However, tourist attractions in Maval tehsil are currently closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The ban on tourism during the festive season has led to the closure of several small and large businesses. Tourist taxi and rickshaw drivers are suffering due to the financial crisis. At the meeting, the traders demanded that they should be allowed to resume business operations with the necessary precautions. Traders questioned why injustice is being done to them even as the lockdown is being gradually lifted across the country.
Prasad Bagwe, office bearer of Maval Business Association said, "We are ready to resume business operations on condition of following all the social distancing norms and other rules formed by the government. Even though Covid-19 cases are high in urban city areas, businesses there are allowed to reopen. Rural areas, despite having less Covid-19 cases, businesses are not allowed to reopen. This is injustice to traders in rural areas."
Bhausaheb Hulawale said, "Finance companies are recovering dues even in a crisis situation like COVID-19 in which citizens have lost their livelihoods. The State Electricity Distribution Company has been issuing inflated power bills even though every establishment was closed. If the ban is not lifted, then businessmen in rural areas will have no other option than to die of suicide."
Hotelier Pratap Dimle said, "Due to lockdown everything has come to a standstill. Small and big businesses are still waiting for help from the government. Rural business associations and businesses are willing to take responsibility for their own safety and of tourists. The government needs to think sympathetically."