Worker cluster in Kasan back to life after a year

(From left) Boys playing football on the street and people sitting in front of freshly painted rows of single-room accommodations in Kasan village on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Ashok Kumar

A large cluster of rows of single-room accommodations, mostly inhabited by unskilled workers, on the outskirts of Kasan village adjoining the Manesar Industrial Model Township buzzed again with activitities almost a year after the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

In sharp contrast to its deserted look in April last year, the place has now come alive with children playing football on the streets, all shops in the neighbourhood open and rooms freshly painted in pink. Also, the mask and social distancing seem to be things of the past.

Most of the workers are back to their previous jobs and rooms are occupied.

Manoj Kumar and his wife Gayatri, a couple from Uttar Pradesh, had gone home for Holi last year only to return in June after a call from their company. Manoj, working at a home furnishing company, earns around ₹9,000 per month with the wages having marginally increased by ₹250 in January. “We soon expect the rent to hike by ₹100 like the previous years,” said Manoj. Ganga (52) had stayed back during the lockdown. She also got her job back in the same company in June last year.

Their companies had paid them ₹5,000 for two months during the lockdown. Though too little, any money was welcome, they said.

‘No more overtime’

The jobs are back, but the fall in production means no overtime for the poor workers. Pushpendra (23), a helper at an auto components factory, would make an additional ₹2,000-2,500 per month working for extra hours earlier. However, the company’s production has gone down since lockdown and there is little chance of earning from overtime now.

Jeetu, from Uttar Pradesh’s Etah, said the number of workers in his company has gone down from 80 earlier to just 50. “The workers sit idle even during the routine eight-hour shift. So there is no chance of an overtime,” he said. “There is not enough work back home. So all those who left during the lockdown are back. In fact, more people have come than had gone,” added Jeetu.

Ranjan (28) had earlier worked at a plywood company in Yamuna Nagar, but came to Manesar with his younger brother after the lockdown. “My earlier employer did not pay me around ₹10,000 for the month of March. Besides, the months that I spent without work left me debt-ridden. The lockdown has left me shattered,” he said. He added that he walked around a 1,000 km to his village in Bihar during the lockdown, with his friends. “It took us a week. We mostly walked at night,” he recalled.

A “chawl” in the village, locally identified as “pili [yellow] building”, with around 90 rooms, is also fully occupied again.

Rajiv, who hails from Allahabad and is one of the inhabitants of the building, returned in November last year to find out that his earlier job in an electrical gadgets manufacturing company was gone. “It took me around a month to find a new job,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 4:22:05 AM |

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