Covid-19 impact: Survival pandemic infects working class
The pandemic and Covid-related restrictions have been hard on everyone. Many have lost their jobs, while others have to face challenges every day to make ends meet. The daily wage workers, small roadside vendors, workers at non-essential shops among others have been hit hard as the non-essential shops have been closed for more than one month. On Thursday, HT spoke to a few people about their struggle for survival.
“We have to skip meals...give me a job”
Laxman Dahibhate, a 48-year-old contract worker, who resides near Dandekar bridge used to work at a clothing shop, but is jobless for the last two months. His daily routine includes a visit to the ‘Kamgar adda chowk’ or labour pick-up point near Dandekar bridge in a hope that he will get some work and he can earn bread and butter for his family.
“Every day, I come here in search of some work, but at the end of the day, I am disappointed. Back at home, my wife and son wait for me to return home, and hope I get groceries and vegetables so that food is cooked. Sometimes we can have our two-time meals, but most of the days we have to skip our dinner as there is nothing to eat in the house,” said Laxman.
He stays along with his family in the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) scheme buildings near the Dandekar bridge.
“Just like me, there are hundreds of other labourers and some of my friends who come daily in search of work and go away without anything. This pandemic has made our lives hell and I hope that the lockdown ends soon and I get some work so that I can earn for my family,” he said.
“Business has suffered, every day we have to look for an alternate source of income”
Sindhu Tukaram Belsare (65), involved in the business of making clay pots and Ganpati idols in Navi peth, said, “There is hardly any business left to do, we are a family of five people. My son, his wife and two children. He (her son) lost his job due to the lockdown and in search of a new job for the last three months”
“Amid the restrictions, the business has suffered and we have to face challenges daily,” said Belsare, whose husband passed away a few years back.
Recalling her last 1.5 years of experience, Belsare said, “Last year we bought a large number of Ganpati idols in big size, but suddenly government ordered to have small idols and to immerse them at home. So our idol stock is lying unused and we had to face a major loss. There is no income source left and day after day we have to look for alternate sources to earn money.”
“I am not able to pay school fees of my children”
Prakash Karangle (45), who sells and repairs footwear near Shanipar Chowk, is a father of three daughters and his wife is a patient with brain disease. “It has become extremely difficult for me and my family to survive because of the lockdown. There were days when we don’t have anything to cook and eat in the house.”
“Our savings have been used up in this period of lockdown. I was not able to pay the school fees of my two daughters and the school administration has told me to pay it immediately or else her name will be removed from the school,” he said.
“Last week, I borrowed ₹2,000 from a friend and then bought groceries, vegetables and other necessary things for my family. Today (on Thursday) since morning I earned only ₹30. How should we survive?” he said.
“I am struggling to pay house rent, bills”
Aslam Shaikh (41), who originally hails from Uttar Pradesh, works at a saloon in Shukrwar peth for the last ten years. “Our shop is closed since the lockdown started but our regular customers call us for service. If possible we go to their home and provide service. We are waiting for the lockdown the end and the business to resume.”
“As I was not able to pay the fees of my son, we decided to remove his name from the school. Also, we shifted from our earlier home which rent was high and now into a one-room kitchen. We have not paid the house rent for two months, even the shop rent and electricity bill payment is pending,” he said.