Covid-19 lockdown: Domestic helps, rickshaw pullers face tough time - Hindustan Times
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Covid-19 lockdown: Domestic helps, rickshaw pullers face tough time

BySanjeev K Jha
Mar 25, 2020 10:55 PM IST

NOIDA: The 21-day lockdown announced to combat the spread of Sars-Cov-2 has started affecting domestic helps, daily wagers, rickshaw pullers and their families residing in Gautam Budh Nagar district.

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Mrinalini, 30, who originally hails from Midnapore in West Bengal, works as maid in four houses at Jalvayu Vihar in Sector 25. Each house owner would pay her Rs 1,500 per month. But on last Saturday, all of her employers told her not to come, making the full and final payments.

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“I have not done the work for a single rupee for the last two days. I am hopeless now as even my husband Dipak Das, who pulls rickshaw, is almost jobless. We have three children completely dependent on us. The unskilled labourers like us are the biggest losers in the current situation. The residents’ welfare association (RWA) has asked the security personnel at the gates not to allow any maid now,” she said.

Dipak fears that the coronavirus outbreak may render him jobless for months. “I used to earn around Rs 250-300 every day. But in the last three days, I could manage to earn only Rs 150. I live in a rented accommodation along with my family. We have very limited grocery left in the house. I have heard that the state government is going to give us money, but I have no idea when and how,” he said.

Almost all the RWAs in the district have restricted the entry of domestic helps in their societies. Bharati, a domestic help who works in Sector 21 area, said that domestic helps, cooks and maids have been told not to come for two weeks or so. “But our employers have not given us any advance payment of salary to deal with the crisis. When we asked them that whether we will loose the jobs, they all are saying only time will tell,” she said.

Similarly, many daily wage workers, mainly associated with construction sector, food outlets, stitching centres, salons, etc. are also getting affected adversely due to the lockdown.

A native of Madhubani in Bihar, 25-year-old Amlesh Mandal works as plumber in Sector 62. He said that his work began slowing down 10 days ago. “No one is allowing us to enter their homes for fear of contracting the virus. I don’t know whether we will be infected by the deadly virus. But, I am sure that the lack of work will kill us first,” he said.

According to Mandal, the crisis has led to a mass exodus of migrant labour to villages. “As many of us do not have bank accounts, we are relying on cash to meet our daily needs. Many of my acquaintances have returned to their homes in Bihar. I also want to go to my native place, but feel helpless with the closure of trains and bus services,” he said.

PS Jain, president, Confederation of NCR Residents’ Welfare Associations (CONRWA), also agrees that the livelihoods of domestic workers, street vendors, auto rickshaw drivers, and construction and utility workers are at risk. “I have appealed to all the RWAs not to cut any salary of workers associated with the unorganised sectors at this time of crisis. We need to plan better to accommodate the needs of those who cannot fend for themselves in a situation of reduced or no demand in some cases,” he said.

GB Nagar district magistrate BN Singh said that the state government already announced on Saturday that the district administration will provide a monthly financial assistance of 1,000 to the daily wage workforce, which may benefit an estimated 15,000 registered with state’s labour department.

For the unregistered lot, Singh said that as per the orders issued by the UP chief secretary today, we will also provide financial assistance to workers of unorganised sectors. “Nine officers have been asked to identify the workers, who are not registered with the state labour department. They will send their reports to the district supply officer, who will send the requisition of funds on the basis of the compiled reports. The last date of sending the requisition report is March 29,” he said.

“Till then, they will not face any dearth of food grains and other daily needs. The public distribution system (PDS) shops have been asked to provide free monthly ration quota of 20 kilograms wheat and 15 kilograms of rice to each of them,” he said.

The DM said that officials have also been asked to get the account details of the identified beneficiaries.

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