The two-day Telangana bandh delivered a double whammy of sorts for daily wage labourers in the city who are already reeling under the impact of economic slow down and resultant loss of work. Many labour markets known as ‘adda’s in the city wore a deserted look on the second day of the bandh, while even the labourers who were present on the site did not get any work.
“For the past two days, none of us has seen a single rupee. Even otherwise, business is dull and getting work has become very difficult. One would be lucky to get two days’ work in a week. This week has seen two spells of bandh covering three days, and we are virtually jobless the whole week,” laments M.Shanthamma, a 60-year-old painter from Gaddi Annaram. Her husband died 18 years ago, and she has to work to eat.
Y.Lakshmamma from Amberpet has similar tale to tell. She earns Rs.200 a day by cleaning utensils in a nearby eatery. For the past two days, she has been literally starving as there is neither money, nor the ration of food she usually gets at the hotel.
“Today, the hotel was open till a mob came and forcibly had it closed. I ended up not getting pay despite working for a few hours,” she said.
Labour markets at Chikkadpally, Punjagutta and Chilkalguda remained almost deserted on Monday.
Dilsukhnagar ‘adda’ had despair in the air with hope slipping away with each passing second. A group of over 100 women and men waited impatiently near the Saibaba Temple with no seekers in the sight even at 12 p.m. Some had already visited a nearby wine shop, which was open despite bandh, on the pretext of easing themselves. The boy who sold ‘chai’ every day was absent for obvious reasons.
“Fortunately, we are not starving. We are eating at the daily ‘annadanam’ organised by Saibaba Temple. However, there are many other obligations to meet such as rent and ration,” says M.Santhosh from Maruthinagar. House rents are to be paid within the first week, for which many labourers are forced to borrow money by mortgaging whatever little gold they have, he says. Also, kerosene is being bought in black market as the ration shops remained shut.
“Nor do we have money to buy ration. Unable to afford rice in the open market, I purchased 25 kilograms of broken rice at Rs.400,” says A.Mangamma, another labourer.