Those engaged in the work fear their livelihood will be hit
On a lane off Edayar Street, a group of women is busy washing clothes at the Coimbatore Corporation’s washing place.
As they continue to beat the clothes to the ground to remove dirt, they are perhaps not able to take their minds off the issue that concerns their livelihood.
The issue has to do with the Corporation’s move to auction the place.
If the Corporation were to do so, the families that are dependent on washing clothes for a living would be deprived of their income, lamented B. Mallika, Secretary, Edayar Veethi Salavai Thozhilalar Ani (Edayar Street Washer Men/Washer Women Front).
She said that for the past 200-odd years, more than 60 families on the street were engaged in the profession. In fact, the street had been named Washer Men/ Washer Women Street.
At present, the majority of those who used the Corporation’s facility were over 50 years of age and women.
The women get used clothes from lodges, houses and commercial establishments. After spending on soap/ detergent and others, the women earn a meagre amount which was way short of meeting household expenses.
If the Corporation were to auction the place, the highest bidder would then charge them for using the facility, which was unprecedented because the front had not heard of any civic body auctioning the place meant for washing clothes.
Plus, after paying the highest bidder the user charges, they would not be able to continue washing because their income would be dented.
It was unfair to deprive them of their income, Ms. Mallika said and added that already a portion of the washing place had been fenced and a commercial complex constructed.
She said that on behalf of the front, the members had petitioned the Collector M. Karunagaran on Monday. They had also petitioned Mayor S.M. Velusamy.
Corporation sources said that the civic body was ready to hand over the maintenance of the washing place to the very petitioners, provided they were ready to pay usage charges.
They added that the civic body was open to their grievances and was not interested in robbing them of their livelihood.
Ms. Mallika said that the women were ready to pay the charges fixed by the Corporation.