flu-1Maharashtra’s economy, which only recently started emerging from the shadow of the global meltdown, has been delivered a double whammy with the spread of swine flu and what officials are calling the worst-ever drought to have hit more than two dozen districts. Panic over the H1N1 virus that has gripped even rural Maharashtra is already being felt by the economy. A senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) minister said that business activities in well over nine districts across the state have come to a halt after a large number of swine flu cases were reported in the Konkan and Western Maharashtra belt. Sales tax commissioner Sanjay Bhatia also admitted that if the present situation continues for a long time, the state’s economy will be sorely affected. While educational institutes and theatres and multiplexes have been closed in the Mumbai-Pune belt, authorities in other districts, too, are facing pressure to shut down all institutions in a pre-emptive attempt to check the spread of the virus. The travel and tourism sector has also taken a beating, with even nonresident Indians abandoning their plans to visit Mumbai or Pune. The crisis is evident from the fact that there have been meagre or no transactions in the district central cooperative banks, which are the backbone of the rural economy in Maharashtra. It is being said that if major activities have been closed, it will have an adverse impact on the economy, but the actual impact will be known only later.”

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