S. Harpal Singh

They are preferred for manual work on large projects

Whole family works as a unit to make ends meet

ADILABAD: Can anything be more miserable than a dozen Palamur labourers being buried alive while at work.

Experts

The toilers from Mahabubnagar district, well known across the country as experts in manual earth excavation, unfortunately found nemesis while removing soil in a trench.

Sunday’s incident at Rallivagu dam site near Mancherial town in Adilabad district once again threw focus on the lives of the Palamuri labourers.

Poverty and exploitation continue to haunt the lives of these hard working labourers, mostly belonging to Scheduled Castes.

“We are forced to toil in this manner because our lands back home cannot be tilled for lack of water,” points out Angadi Venkataramana of Pedda Chintakunta village in Devarakadra mandal of Mahabubnagar district. Like others of his ilk, he works on contract basis for a ‘labour contractor’ from his district for meagre wages.

Palamur labourers are preferred for manual work on large projects across the country.

Labour contractors who hire the services of a given number of labourers exercise control over the lot.

Advance

Each labourers is given an advance of about Rs. 10,000 before he embarks on his journey to the distant work place.

The advance payment is deducted at the rate of 40 per cent while the remaining 60 per cent is paid as daily monthly wages. The contractor also feeds the labourers but the quality of food is quite dismal.

“The whole family has to work as a unit so as to make both ends meet. This is the reason why we have our children working by our side even though the job is hazardous,” says Bodi Kondaiah of Veltur village.

The Palamur labourers are on contract for a period of 6 to 9 months only.

Their contract ends with the start of rainy season and they get back to work around dasara festival.