If the large crowd gathered at the Chief Minister’s Jana Spandana here on Tuesday is anything to go by, people are indeed living in trying times. Travelling from afar, people thronged the official residence of Siddaramaiah with grievance forms, requests and applications spanning a diverse range of issues.
Top among these were requests for jobs, housing and healthcare, while some were focussed on issues affecting the lives and livelihoods of a common group.
However, the programme was cut short after an hour as the Chief Minister had to go on a condolence visit to mourn Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar’s father.Many people didn’t get an opportunity to meet the Chief Minister, and his exit was marred by the loud wails of a woman who said that she had been waiting on the footpath all night just to meet him. She had come to seek a job for her husband, Channarayappa, who was terminated from his job as a driver in Gulbarga KSRTC in July 2011, following a paralytic attack in his right hand.
“Usually a job is given in some other department on humanitarian grounds. Here, he was just thrown out and now we are out on the roads,” she wailed.
The first to get an audience with the Chief Minister was a group of 50 that had travelled from Hassan and Chikmagalur representing the fishermen living and earning their livelihoods from the Hemavati, Kabini, KRS and Yagachi reservoirs.
The group complained that the decision of the Department of Fisheries to grant fishing rights (or licence) to a cooperative federation has hit them hard.
Alleging a mafia operating against the interests of fishermen, the group said that the catch was being underpriced heavily — according to receipts they were getting Rs. 25 per kg, while they claim the cooperative was selling it in the market for Rs. 90 to Rs. 100 a kg.
Mari Joseph, who represented the fishermen, said that no ledgers were maintained and all the transactions were against existing government rules.
Mr. Joseph said that the rules state that the cooperative must pay 50 per cent of the market price to the fishermen, and this is being violated. He said that this is affecting migratory fishermen who previously were given licence for a fixed fee and allowed to catch fish and sell them directly.
“That was a transparent process and did not leave scope for middlemen. Whoever questions the mafia is also harassed,” a fisherman from KRS told The Hindu. The Chief Minister promised to look into the matter, and investigate the cooperative’s alleged role.Jobs, contract labour
Two recurring themes among most requests were job and seeking regularisation of existing jobs, and applications for housing under various schemes.
When one woman, who brought proof of her husband’s disability, asked for a house and a job, Mr. Siddaramaiah asked the person in-charge of the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana to help allot housing, but told her frankly that he could not help her with a job.
In some cases people had just turned up without documents or even a proper address for authorities to respondto them. Lakshmamma (25) said that she lives in the Yeshwantpur Railway Station and wanted a house for her and her child. When Mr. Siddaramaiah asked the Slum Board official to help her, she said that she did not have an address for them to even contact her for the allotment.