Anantapur: Kia shutdown cripples lives of lakh

Anantapur: Kia shutdown cripples lives of lakh
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Highlights

The once lively village of Erramanchi in Penukonda mandal in the district where Kia Motors is located in the sprawling 536 acres resembles a ghost township with the South Korean automobile major shutting down for 21 days in line with the Central and state governments’ lockdown of the country to battle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anantapur: The once lively village of Erramanchi in Penukonda mandal in the district where Kia Motors is located in the sprawling 536 acres resembles a ghost township with the South Korean automobile major shutting down for 21 days in line with the Central and state governments' lockdown of the country to battle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A week ago, it was a bustling Korean township teeming with life with the Korean giant and its ancillaries together accounting for employment generation to more than 15,000 families and the local economy that is thriving based on daily movement of hundreds of heavy container vehicles that carry Kia cars to places around the country.

The people, who form the transportation team, the hundreds of medium transport vehicles that carry automobile goods, private contracted passenger transport that bring in workers from distant locations, the exclusive Korean restaurants, scores of local fast food restaurants, tea stalls, coffee houses and lodges that came up in Kia vicinity that provide hospitality to stake holders in Kia.

Similarly, local cabs, hundreds of auto-rickshaws which operate from surrounding villages to Kia factory, all accounting for livelihood loss to an estimated 10,000 workers both floating and stationary, maybe a multi-million dollar loss to the company and its local economy stake holders.

The strain on the local economy and the monetary and livelihood loss is staggering and beyond statistical description.

What is called the mini-Korean township located on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru national highway is looking desolate with the local economy with national and international ramifications.

With the coronavirus scaring everyone, a transport operator Ranjith Singh, who parked his vehicle with hundreds of stranded vehicles from around the country, told 'The Hans India' that for transport workers like him financial loss is huge but for the first time it all seemed to everyone like him that life is more dearer than the financial loss and it dawned upon everyone that top priority is to keep away from the dreaded coronavirus.

While sipping tea, he mutters that he is missing his wife and children very much.

Kim Shim, a Korean worker engaged in maintenance of his restaurant, says in broken English that his restaurant was doing roaring business of a minimum of Rs 10,000 a day and many Indians used to taste Korean dishes along with Korean nationals.

Says he lost more than Rs 1 lakh business so far. There will be no business until Kia reopened its facility here. Kia is likely to reopen only on April 21 or so.

At least 25000 to 30,000 families have been adversely affected accounting for more than a lakh population.

An auto-walla Gangappa shuttling between Penukonda and Erramanchipalem everyday said he earned between Rs 1500 to 2000 per day.

His wife, he says, saved some money out of his earnings and that is what is sustaining his family now in these trying times. His wife is happy that he is able to talk, converse and laugh with children.

He philosophizes that bad times are ahead for the economy that unless everyone saved money for a rainy day, life will be in distress.

A pushcart tea and tiffin vendor Ramanamma who used to earn handsomely near the company vicinity told 'The Hans India' that she exhausted her meager savings during the past one week and literally starvation is staring at her but for the government and NGOs' supply of food packets to his family of four.

She is able to keep her life going, she adds.

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