Even worse hit is the real estate sector.
At the time of Sai Baba's death, there were some 300 apartments in Puttaparthi, around 60 of which were under construction.
Some developers were banking on the hordes expected for the 90th birthday celebrations of Sai Baba to make a killing (he had reportedly predicted he would die at 96, though the end came a good 12 years before that), while others were hoping to cash in on the existing influx of visitors.
At his office in nearby Bokkapatnam, Vekateshu Reddy, the sub-registrar, says revenue from property registrations, which includes transactions in Puttaparthi, has been declining steadily since 2011, from Rs 5.6 crore in the year ending March 2011 to Rs 3.9 crore in 2012-13.
There are hardly any registrations of new properties from Puttaparthi now, he says .
Nobody has started new projects, confirms CH Saikrishna, proprietor of Sai Leela Developers.
Saikrishna has managed to sell 28 of the 30 apartments he was left with in 2011 but adds that most were not that fortunate.
Much of the construction in the town bypassed regulations, which also means they were not eligible for funding from banks. Unable to repay the loans they took at high interest from private financiers, many developers have also been forced to leave town, says Saikrishna.
"I'm not planning any new development till the market picks up," he adds.
Suresh Kogira, who along with his father manages Sai Suri Builders and Developers, says some developers had been forced to slash prices from Rs 1400-1600 a square foot to Rs 700-800 a square foot under pressure from financiers.
Kogira, however, is optimistic that the market will recover and plans to launch a project later this year. "But we've had to scale down our expectations." Image Courtesy
: Ramanan Sivaranjan, Flickr