GUWAHATI, Dec 21 - Assamese film industry is staring at an uncertain future as cinema halls are facing serious crisis and a number of halls have already closed down and some others are on the verge of closure. The All Assam Cinema Hall Owners �Association is of the view that the crisis faced by the halls compounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic and without immediate support from the Government, it would be difficult for the halls to survive.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, president of the Association, Chinmoy Sarma pointed out that the Government should immediately come forward to help the owners of the halls as was done by some other states of the country. He said that the cinema halls were closed due to the pandemic in March this year and though the Government allowed reopening of the halls from October 15 with 50 per cent capacity, most of the halls in the State are yet to resume normal operations. He said that it would not be viable for most of the halls to operate with 50 per cent capacity.
Sarma said that after the lockdown was imposed, the major problem faced by the halls is the fixed charge of connected load of electricity and the halls also have to pay a penalty for not using the fixed charge. He pointed out that despite the fact that the halls are not in operation, the fixed charge and the penalty were not waived and most of the hall owners are not in a position to pay the amount. He called upon the Government to waive the same for the period when the cinema halls were not in operation. He also requested the Government to give a special package for the employees of the halls as most of the hall owners are not in a position to pay their salaries.
The general secretary of the Association, Rajiv Kumar Bora said that several prominent cinema halls of Guwahati are on the verge of closure. He said that in the past few years, a number of halls were converted to godowns and market complexes and the lockdown added to the problems of the remaining halls.
He said that the Assam State Power Distribution Company Limited has already disconnected the power supply of several halls because of the failure of the owners to pay the bills during the lockdown period. �I have 15 halls all over the State and electricity connection has been disconnected in 10 of them,� he added.
Bora said that Assamese film industry would not survive if the cinema halls close down and the Government should immediately formulate a policy for the revival of the halls.