Chennai

The long and arduous road to livelihood

A woman walks slowly, deftly balancing a bundle on her head with her right hand, and handling a crutch with her left. This bare-foot traveller had just about crossed Athibelli archway and has to walk another few hundred meters to reach the Hosur bus stand. She neither has the time nor the inclination to catch her breath or talk. For the job-starved rural poor of the drought-hit agrarian and non-industrial districts in the neighbourhood, this road from Hosur to Jujuvadi checkpost and the archway of Athibelli is the road to livelihood. This road stands witness to thousands of commutes by ordinary people, journeying across the border to eke out a living. For the last six days, this road has been on lock down mode except for some private vehicles.

Sivashakthi and Ezhumalai had left home in Tirukovilur in Villupuram before dawn on Monday and reached Hosur just after the Supreme Court pronounced its order. The couple, employed on daily wages in a construction site in Bengaluru, has rented a small tenement in Bengaluru for Rs. 3,000. “We go home to Villupuram once a fortnight, when we get our accumulated wages. Last week, they sent word from my daughter's school for some signature,” says Sivashakti.

Sivashakthi and Ezhumalai earn a daily wage of Rs. 300 and Rs. 700 respectively in Bengaluru, while their three children stay under the care of their parents back in Villupuram. The couple left for Hosur after hearing that buses were plying across Tamil Nadu. “Nobody told us anything,” she says. For her, now the bigger concern is what will happen when she eventually gets to her tenement in Bengaluru. “Will things be normal then?” she asks.

Wasim, a Tamil-speaking private bus conductor, managed to make a trip to Bengaluru today on his Karnataka-registered private bus. “We drove, with three buses together, to be safe,” he says. On Monday, he bore witness to a TN-registered private bus having its glass panes smashed at Koramangala. “Normally, we pick up 40 to 50 passengers. But today, we had over 80 passengers,” he says.

Karnataka-registered vehicles were allowed entry by TN police. However, post-noon, Karnataka police barred entry for their buses into Tamil Nadu. So, Wasim’s bus made a detour through a by-pass and entered Hosur after it was denied entry across Athibelli. Those who depend on the train have been left undisturbed. Says Srinivasan, who works for HCL in Hebbal: “It’s an hour’s commute from Hosur to Hebbal by passenger.”

Even in this chaos, vendors at Hosur bus stand made brisk sales, thanks to a captive audience of stranded people.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 2:56:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/The-long-and-arduous-road-to-livelihood/article14636351.ece

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