PATNA, 28 OCT: As politicians in the state campaign for special category status for Bihar citing its “economic backwardness”, the ostentatious display of wealth during Dhanteras seemed to indicate that the East Indian state is passing through an economic boom.
While market watchers were expecting a shrinkage of 25-30 per cent in sales volumes owing to the rising inflation and a slowdown in US and European markets, Bihar is estimated to have spent around Rs 1,000 crores on costly items like diamond, gold, cars, and electronic goods on a single day.
On Dhanteras, buying precious metals is considered very auspicious.Those working in the bullion market were particularly surprised by the growth in precious metal sales, while were 25 to 30 per cent more than last year.
Gold and silver sales topped the list, despite the fact that gold and silver prices have increased by Rs 8,000 and Rs 21,000 per kg respectively over the last year. Combined gold and silver sales stood at Rs 310 crore, while diamond jewellry sales stood at Rs 200 crore across the state.
The craze among customers for precious metals is underlined by the fact that the State Bank of India had set a target of selling 52 kg of gold coins in the state, but jewellers in Patna alone sold gold and silver coins worth over Rs 75 crore, according to reports in the local media.
Last year during Dhanteras, jewellry sales in Patna were Rs 42 crore, a new record then.
“There was an unusual enthusiasm among customers to purchase gold and silver this year, something that we never expected. We really did very brisk business,” said Mr Sunil Kumar, the owner of Shyam Jewellery in the state capital.
The automobile markets also showed a boom with record sales of around 1,800 cars and 9,100 motorbikes across the state on Dhanteras by leading automobile dealers. Last year, some 1,500 cars were sold during this occasion.
The car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki took the lead selling 750 cars, followed by Mahindra Motors and Tata Motors which sold 500 and 350 cars, respectively.
Experts had also expected a slump in the car market this year, predicting a contraction in sales of 20 to 25 per cent in comparison to last year. Instead, leading automobile dealers registered a single day turnover in excess of Rs 70 crore.
Over Rs 300 crore of electronic gadgets were sold, and Rs 5 crore worth of utensils.The government said that people across the state withdrew around Rs 400 crore from different bank ATMs on the evening before Dhnateras and the day itself, double the amount people withdrew from banks last year in the same period.
According to official statistics, Rs 268 crore was withdrawn from the country’s leading State Bank of India alone through its 704 ATMs in the state.