Since the State Government announced an increase in electricity tariff, price of milk and bus fares, the anxiety in the Selvaraj household has only increased. Simon Selvaraj, 64, lives in a humble 250- square-foot flat of Tamil Nadu Housing Board quarters in Chetpet along with his wife S. Pushpam, 58.
Apart from medical expense, EB charges top his household expenses. “I have been paying Rs. 450, how much more would it increase when the new rates come into effect?,” wonders Selvaraj, showing his EB card.
The family has stopped buying milk and cut down on other miscellaneous expenditure, but electricity is something they cannot do with.
Pushpam, he says, had recently undergone a surgery and is also diabetic.
“She needs the fan the entire day and along with the television it de-stresses her. I have asked her not to cut down on these two,” says Selvaraj, who works as a motor operator in an apartment complex in Velachery, where he cycles to work. Cycling to work helps him save money as en route he stops at wholesale markets to buy provisions for the home. Selvaraj gets a monthly salary of Rs. 2,000; in addition he makes a couple of thousands of cleaning vehicles in the apartment complex. He operates the motor and takes care of maintenance work.
His monthly old age pension of Rs. 1,000 takes care of medical expenses. But, what has upset the family is Selvaraj has not been getting the pension amount for the last three months.
“At least 50 others in the housing board have not received it,” he says. Selvaraj has also been living on debts, which he took to arrange his son's marriage and his wife's surgery in a private hospital. Although Selvaraj takes up other jobs to supplement his family expense, he says it is not fair to hike prices.
“I am not asking the government to increase our salaries, but the least they can do is not make such steep increase,” he adds.