As one motors down the Wall Tax Road, one can see men and women engaged in weaving bamboo baskets on the road margin unmindful of the hustle and bustle of traffic and the events taking place around them.
The living and economic conditions of these bamboo baskets and ‘thatty' (blinds) weaving families have been similarly on the margin. .
M. Venkatesan, who is engaged in this family business despite having secured a degree in Bachelor of Economics, said the business had not been good for all the families with the earnings used mostly for washing their stomach than for having a comfortable living. He attributes the poor business to lack of unity among the bamboo weavers in the locality who in order to gain orders quote low prices bringing down the profit margin. Mr. Venkatesan, who has good knowledge of bamboo weaving, offers to produce bamboo products for office purposes also. He can be contacted at 9382875527.
Mr. Venkatesan said around 25 families are engaged in the business in the closely clustered asbestos-roofed huts located on the road margins. The bamboo weavers belonging to the Scheduled Caste have been doing business in the city for more than a generation, but have not gained any benefits meant for the people. He said “previously we lived on the road side of the Park Town Bus Terminus from where we shifted to this place in the 1980s. At that time the Chennai Collector allotted this place and assured us of providing all necessary facilities.”
Muniammal, whose family is also involved in the bamboo weaving business, echoed the same and said the State Government had not taken any steps to help encourage this business with any subsidy or incentives.
Living in huts along the road margin of the arterial Wall Tax Road these families have not been provided with any basic facilities namely good drinking water and toilets . Ms. Muniammal said the hutments did not have toilets leave alone any public convenience. Moreover as each and every member of the family including children are involved in the business, education has taken the backseat. Added to that the absence of any Government or Corporation higher secondary schools have left those families to put their children in private schools, where they find it hard to pay fees. “As a result we have to discontinue the studies of our children,” she said.
Bamboo basket weavers live on the road margins without basic facilities.