Thiruvananthapuram

Pangs of the pandemic emerge

A worker arranging iron poles and other materials in the godown of a ‘pandal’ decoration contractor in Thiruvalla recently.

A worker arranging iron poles and other materials in the godown of a ‘pandal’ decoration contractor in Thiruvalla recently.   | Photo Credit: Leju Kamal

Prolonged social distancing hits livelihoods of many people

Pangs of the COVID-19 pandemic has started taking its toll on the public life in Pathanamthitta.

Though inevitable and an absolute necessity, the restrictions imposed by the authorities on people’s movement, functioning of offices, shops, banks etc, as part of the ongoing intensive disease prevention campaign has rendered many people jobless, at least, for the time being.

“Many marriage ceremonies have been cancelled or being reduced to mere family functions with a participation of hardly 50 people. We, caterers have lost all our orders for March, April and even for May. Our catering group had eight orders for marriage feast (sadya) in March alone and all of them have been cancelled due to the ongoing crisis,” said S.N. Sadasivan Pillai of Parthasarathy Caterers at Aranmula.

Mr. Pillai had to close his two village hotels in Aranmula, retaining all the 12 workers from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu there, with full wages, food and accommodation.

The marriage halls, auditoriums and conference halls too have been shut down since March 7 when the first five COVID-19 cases were reported from Ranni. This has also affected the livelihood of photographers, videographers, interior designers, decorators, beauticians, vegetable and provision merchants, and the long list goes on like that.

Raju Maglight who owns a studio in Thiruvalla says wedding photography has been the main source of a professional photographer’s monthly income. With the cessation of marriage ceremonies and receptions, that revenue source has been sealed, leaving many self-employed photographers in utter despair.

“However, we have been fully complying all the restrictions imposed by the government from time to time in the larger interests of the society,” he said.

Many small-scale business people here have availed themselves of small loans and have joined chit funds of financial institutions, that include the State-owned Kerala State Financial Enterprises, for starting their own businesses. The COVID-19 crisis was a bolt from the blue that had badly hit all their financial plans and calendars.

“We anticipate, at least, a moratorium on the loan repayment and on the monthly chit fund remittances of the KSFE till the coronavirus crisis is over,” said Mathew Thankachan who runs an event management firm.

In effect, the COVID-19 crisis has hit the livelihood of the self-employed people, daily labourers, farm workers, and a large number of women employed at various textiles, shopping malls, and various other business organisations in the district.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 1:08:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/pangs-of-covid-19-pandemic/article31154138.ece

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