For Lallu Prasad, life has no meaning. He is among the 25,000 odd people who are trying to survive in the almost ‘dead’ brass industry. “We are on the verge of starvation,” rues Lallu Prasad a brass metal labourer. “The advent of steel in the market has virtually rendered us jobless,” he says.
There are different people belonging to different castes like Kaseras, Bind, Kurmi, Teli, Vishwakarma, Yadav, Muslims etc who work in this industry.
Mirzapur was once famous for its brass industry, which used to employ lakhs of people in this district. The situation has altogether changed now.
“Even when this industry is almost dead, still 25,000 people are struggling hard to earn their livelihood from it,” said Om Prakash Kasera, president of Kasera Samaj Navyuvak Samiti at Gudari area here, which is known for brass work. Spiralling rise in the prices of raw material of brass is attributed as the main reason for recession in this industry. “Raw brass used to be available at Rs 80 per kilogramme till a few years ago but presently it has touched Rs 250 per kg,” said Shiv Kumar, another brass metal worker. “Less use of brass metal and sky rocketing price of its raw material has dealt a blow to this trade,” added Kumar.
The scene is pathetic in Mirzapur bazar specially falling under kotwali police station area. A few labourers can be seen grinding, crushing and polishing brass items while the rest watch them. “Brass items are now only used in religious and marriage ceremonies,” said Mithali Lal, adding further, “Earlier when brass items were in daily use, this trade was flourishing but today it is down by 75 per cent.”
Commenting on government apathy, Lallu Prasad said, “the ill conceived policies of the UPA government at the center has resulted in slow death of this trade.”