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Maharashtra: daily wagers, labourers worst hit by lockdown

Mumbai: Even as Maharashtra grapples with the rise in COVID-19 cases, people have been forced to remain indoors during the pandemic but the worst affected are the daily wagers and other labourers.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday announced a complete lockdown in the state and imposed prohibitory orders as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.

So far 107 people have tested positive for the deadly pathogen in the state, which has witnessed a steady rise in the number of cases with each passing day.

Multinationals and corporations have allowed employees to work from home, while government offices are operating with five per cent staff.

However, the labourers, especially the daily wagers, seem to have gotten the raw end of the deal.

The COVID-19 curfew has robbed construction worker Ranjan Mukhiya (25) of his daily income of Rs 450.

A native of Darbhanga in Bihar, Mukhiya works at an underconstruction building in suburban Kalina.

“I have not been paid in last couple of days, as the work has come to a standstill at the site. My labour contractor has been providing me some essentials, helping me survive without money,” he said.

There has been a mass exodus of labourers from the site ever since the government announced a lockdown, he

added.

Several daily wagers like Mukhiya live in shared rooms and pay rents to the tune of Rs 500 per month for these crowded accommodations.

“We have been borrowing money to survive. We want the government to at least help us get to our hometowns,” Ranjeet Kumar Yadav, another daily-wage labourer, said.

For Dilip Benbansi, who drives an autorickshaw on rent, the COVID-19 lockdown is nothing like what he has witnessed in the last 15 years that he has been in the city.

“I had to borrow Rs 2,000 from a colleague to buy essentials for the month,” he said.

Many workers like Jitendra Yadav wish to leave the city, but are left stranded, as the railway and bus services have been suspended in light of the pandemic.

“We don’t have any other source of income and we don’t have enough to survive in the city. If this lockdown continues, will be forced to travel to our native place on cycles or in worst case scenario, on foot,” he said.

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