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Warangal: Can working-class survive the lockdown?

Warangal: Can working-class survive the lockdown?
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Warangal: As the country is grappling to stem the rot being inflicted by the pandemic coronavirus (Covid-19), the worst affected are the petty vendors,...

Warangal: As the country is grappling to stem the rot being inflicted by the pandemic coronavirus (Covid-19), the worst affected are the petty vendors, construction workers and labourers especially the daily-wagers engaged in construction sector.

The lockdown has not only robbed their income but also left some of them stranded away from their native places. Apparently, the State Government's gesture to provide rice and some cash to the white ration card holders and migrant workers is the only solace for this working class.

"The economic package for the poor on account of the lockdown may be of immense help at this hour of exigency. It may work to some extent, but it is not going to rebuild their livelihood even after the lockdown was lifted. Before the coronavirus scare subsides and normalcy returns, these workers, who just survive on a hand-to-mouth income, would surely run out of savings whatever they have. Then they would be up against a dire situation," Dr Tirunahari Seshu, Lecturer in Economics, Kakatiya University, said, speaking to The Hans India.

The urban poor who survive by working in the informal sector such as hawkers, street vendors etc are the other vulnerable. These sections have no other fallback option but to wait for the lockdown to end. In Warangal city, there are thousands of hawkers selling household goods, clothes, leather and plastic goods etc mostly manufactured in small-scale or home-based industries.

Sammaiah, who sells car window shades at traffic islands, said: "I used to earn at least Rs 100 a day, but since the lockdown, I have nothing to do. I am waiting for the lockdown to go." "Even though the State Government had announced sops for the white ration card holders in the form of rice and cash transfer, a sizable number of urban poor especially those involved in the informal sector will inevitably be left out," Dr Seshu said.

Although the number of constructions workers in the erstwhile Warangal district is not exactly available, according to the website of the Telangana Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (TBOCWWB), the number of workers registered - Warangal Urban district has 58,237, Warangal Rural 26,851, Jangaon 22,090, Mahabubabad 18,390, and Jayashankar-Bhupalpally (including Mulugu) 16, 376.

Since the lockdown, the labour addas (pick up points) which used to witness a huge rush with construction workers are now boasting an empty look.

On the other hand, the works carried under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) have come to a grinding halt. Even before the lockdown, the MGNREGS works have come to a standstill due to the field assistants' strike. Otherwise, around this time the works of MGNREGS would have been in full swing, according to District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) officials.

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