Theatre owners in Tirupati and across the state have asked the state government to grant some relief on power bills. Theatres were allowed to open from mid-October this year, but many of them are still closed. The exhibitors association has urged the Chief Minister’s office to waive power charges or provide concessions for duration in which theatres were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Theatres have incurred huge losses during the lockdown and have remained closed for nearly eight months. Even though they are now permitted to reopen, safety measures such as 50% occupancy are to be maintained. The power required for the theatre to function will remain unchanged, while revenues are still at 50%. Theatres that have High Tension (HT) connections have accumulated huge power bills. A minimum of Rs. 75,000 per month is owed for HT connections with 100KVA load, even if no power was used. The overall dues pending are around Rs. 10 crore. Additionally, theatres have to incur expenses for implementing safety protocols such as contactless ticketing, automatic thermal screening, fumigation of seats after every show, among others.
Theatre owners had asked the Andhra Pradesh government to waive charges incurred by them during the lockdown period in which theatres could not open. The government has not responded to their request as yet. Power connections, however, have been disconnected as dues have not been paid for those months. In Telangana, the Chief Minister announced a waiver of minimum demand charges for electricity bills from March till theatres reopened. Most theatres in Andhra Pradesh have remained shut even after the central government has permitted them to open in October. Theatre management has stated that it is not profitable to open with 50% capacity. They have also appealed to the state government to allow 75% seating capacity.