Lockdown extension adds to the woes of dispirited daily wagers

People queue up to collect food being distributed near ISBT in New Delhi on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

What started as a week-long lockdown in the city, has now stretched to a month. Several daily wagers complained of difficulties in managing households with the extended lockdown period.

With no work and lack of resources, several families are now either dependent on foodgrains being distributed by NGOs or are having to borrow from relatives and neighbours, they said.

Dry ration

Subodh Bind, a street vendor said, “I have been out of work for the last month. Due to the lockdown, our stalls have remained non-functional and there has been no income. Several others in our area, who are rickshaw pullers or labourers have been affected in the same manner.”

Mr. Bind added that with the help of NGOs, dry ration has been distributed among his JJ cluster neighbours.

“There are over 250 families in my area and till now, we have provided dry ration like wheat, salt, oil and rice to around 82 families who are in dire need. During the 2020 lockdown, we were also getting cooked meals. However, this time the focus is only on dry ration. The situation is so bad that everyone is saying that they need ration but we are distributing among the extremely needy first,” said Mr. Bind.

For several others, depending on relatives and neighbours for assistance has been the only way out during this crisis.

Rekha Devi, a resident of the Pul Mithai area said, “My husband is a labourer and we were completely dependent on the daily wages that he received. With the lockdown imposition, we have lost out on the wages completely. I have four children. How are we supposed to run the household? We tried to use some money from the little savings we had but how long can that last? Now I am dependent on my brother who has arranged dry ration for our family. We are under immense pressure right now.”

The uncertainty over how long the current situation will persist has also left many wondering about the future course of action.

Kaushalya Devi, who works as a house help said, “This is the second time in a year that my husband, a daily wager, is completely out of work. I am worried that if this lockdown extends further, then some of my employers might not pay me my salary. We are already under extreme financial distress and the uncertainty over when things will return to normal is worse. I have already bought essential items on credit and am worried that I will end up owing a lot of money to the shopowner soon.”

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 11:42:10 AM |

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