Jalandhar, June 1
How badly the Covid-induced lockdown has hit the unorganised sector is evident from the fact that hundreds of daily wagers, who earned their livelihood by doing menial jobs at bus stands, railway stations and at other places, are still finding it hard to make both ends meet.
Mahinderpal (62), who has been selling stationery items at the bus stand here for the last four decades, says he earned only Rs 30 on the first day of his work on Saturday against his per day sale of Rs 800-900 before the lockdown.
“Although relaxations have been given, due to the fear of Covid-19, people are avoiding venturing out. The footfall at the bus stand has reduced to 20 per cent. I don’t think the situation will improve in the coming days, so I am thinking of finding another job”, he said.
Mahinderpal says he buys stationery items from a wholesale shop to further sell it bus-to-bus, at ticket counters, dhabas and at waiting areas or anywhere in the bus stand where he finds people sitting in good numbers. “On the sale of Rs 800-900, I make a profit of at least Rs 500. My customers are students and service persons. But as colleges, IELTS centres and many offices are still closed, I hardly find any customer,” he rued.
He said it had become difficult for him to arrange even two meals a day. “I have a rent of Rs 2,500 to pay for my one bedroom set at Dashmesh Nagar here. I have my wife and two sons living with me. My sons used to work as waiters at the bus stand here, but as dine-in is not allowed, the eatery owner has not called them to the job. They have also not been paid. This pandemic outbreak has rendered us jobless and affected our lives both financially and mentally,” he said.
When asked how he managed the last two months of the lockdown, he said he borrowed some money from his relatives to buy ration and pay rent to his landlord. “My landlord has been nice to me. He didn’t force me to pay the rent at once and took it in installments. I got ration from some NGO twice, so we managed that period. But now there is no ration or help as markets have opened, therefore I am in dire need of money to sustain my family,” he added.
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