Kolkata: A day’s bandh translates into a loss of more than Rs 1,000 crore for the state, experts have calculated. Over the last three years, the economic loss from a 24-hour bandh has increased by around Rs 350 crore.
The loss can be divided into two broad categories: economic and non-economic. While the economic loss includes loss of gross domestic product ( GDP), production loss and loss of employment, non-economic loss cannot be measured in quantity. Experts feel the loss of the image and a negative sentiment carried forward during bandhs hampers a state’s growth, which might not be measured in quantities, but the impact creates havoc.
According to economist Abhirup Sarkar, around 60 man days were lost nationally in 2008 and 2011 from bandh and lock-outs in West Bengal. “It has come down significantly at present. But such bandhs don’t improve the image of the state, and are a major reason for discouraging industrialization in Bengal,” he said.
While there is no method to quantify losses, a study conducted by Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has tried to put a figure to economic loss suffered by the state. In a study conducted in 2012, the chamber devised a method of putting together the state domestic product and divide it by the number of working days. During the study, ICC calculated working days for each sector — such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing — keeping in mind holidays and weekly off days. According to the report, the total loss from a 12-hour ‘bandh’ in Bengal was approximately Rs 804.55 crore, keeping the 2008-’09 NSDP (Net State Domestic Product) figures into account.
The amount of losses mounted over the years, and keeping the 2012-’13 NSDP in mind, the amount of loss arising from a 12-hour bandh crossed Rs 1,000 crore. According to data available from the state government, the worst hit sector was real estate and construction. According to 2008-”09 NSDP figures, the real estate sector suffered a loss of Rs 165 crore due to a 12-hour bandh, while the construction sector suffered a loss of Rs 131 crore.
Rajiv Singh, director general of ICC, feels that it not only impacts business environment, but also affects wage-earners to a large extent. “Two-thirds of the workforce is still unorganized and these bandhs will only hamper their interest. Had they been in everyone’s interest, it would have been successful in all states and not in select ones,” he said.