Daily wage workers in Noida, who are yet to recover from the note ban effect, are unhappy over being ignored by political parties. They said that the parties claim to care for the poor but are only interested in them as vote banks.
A majority of the workers in Noida are migrants from neighbouring states. They form a vital part of the construction work in the developing cities of Noida and Greater Noida.
Fifty-six-year-old Ismail of Aligarh, who has been living in Noida for the last five years, says that despite the election date closing in, no political party has addressed the issues of workers.
“All parties claim that they care for the poor but in reality, they only milk the poor strata for votes. Since we can’t vote, they are not bothered about us. No leader will come forward and say that he/she wants to double the income of daily wagers,” Ismail said.
VK Seth, a city-based entrepreneur, said, “The daily wage contractual labourers form the biggest workforce in three phases of Noida. They have been a part of this city since its inception and yet, no one is bothered about them. Have you seen any political party campaigning for them or raising their issues? This sector faces complete neglect despite being the backbone of industry in Noida.”
Workers, who are mostly hired in the morning hours, can be seen waiting even in the afternoon at the labour chowk in Sector 60.
Forty-eight-year-old Santosh Prasad says the situation has remained the same over the last three months, and his daily earnings still remain below half of what he used to earn before demonetization. Prasad is from Gaya district in Bihar and has been living in Noida’s Sector 58 for the last 13 years.
“We sit here all day, waiting for contractors to hire us but there is no work in the market. The construction business has collapsed post-demonetization and worst, it has not affected the builders but us labourers. We hardly manage to earn ₹200 per day,” said Prasad.
“I don’t have Noida voter card and a majority of the labourers here are migrants who have come from states such as Bihar, Odisha, Haryana and Jharkhand. Why would the political parties care for us? We are not their vote bank,” he said.
Noida, along with two other constituencies Jewar and Dadri of Gautam Budh Nagar, is set to go to polls on February 11. The candidates from different parties have been heavily campaigning in the city for the last one month.
While Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters have been campaigning in the sectors of Noida, propagating the pros of demonetization, the party has ignored the plight of daily wage workers, they claim.
“BJP has avoided visiting the slums of Noida because they know that their support base lies in the posh sectors. They claim that ‘notebandi’ has done marvels for the country which is a lie. I request them to visit the labour chowk once,” Sunil Singh, a daily wager from Faridabad, said.
According to Vipin Malhan, the president of Noida Entrepreneurs Association, the city is home to 40-50,000 daily wage workers, who form the backbone of construction industry. Since demonetization, the sector has taken a hit and it seems unlikely that the situation will improve in the upcoming days.
“Daily wagers in Noida flock from different parts of India for work and since demonetization, they have been facing difficulties. Unless the turbulent period of economy and confusion over currency ends, it is difficult to predict when their situation will improve,” Malhan said.
“We are not concerned with politics but it is sad to see how politicians alienate us in the city. I have lived and worked for more than a decade in Noida and yet, it seems as if I don’t belong here,” Prasad said.