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Daily wagers residing at Kachi Colony in Dhanas: ‘Either we walk, or we starve here’

"We will completely run out of money soon, so we cannot purchase this food regularly. We are relying on the little ration that is left at home," says Raja Ram, another construction worker residing in the colony with his three daughters and wife.

Written by Chahat Rana | Chandigarh | Published: March 29, 2020 11:18:06 am
Migrant workers on Chandigarh-Zirakpur highway, walking back to their native places on foot, due to absence of transport facility owing to the curfew on Saturday. Jaipal Singh

Finding themselves without livelihood and basic resources for sustenance, daily wagers residing at Kachi Colony in Dhanas are struggling to feed their children and thus considering to go back home to their native villages, like many across the country.

“Our village is in Uttar Pradesh. We too will head there, like many others like us are currently doing. There is nothing left for us here anymore,” says Vishnu Kumar, a construction worker from the colony, who has four children.

Even though the administration has made provisions, in association with the Red Cross Society, to send subsidised food to the marginalised areas of the city, food packets for one person priced at Rs 10 is also too hefty for the colony’s residents to pay. “We do not have any savings. We will completely run out of money soon, so we cannot purchase this food regularly. We are relying on the little ration that is left at home, but my daughters have been crying for milk and I do not know what to get them,” says Raja Ram, another construction worker residing in the colony with his three daughters and wife. Ram has one-year-old twin daughters and he has been struggling to find milk for them since the last few days. “Some shops opened up today, but everything is so over-priced, we have nowhere to go,” says Ram.

As the administration announced some relaxations on curfew norms, allowing people to access local grocery and kiraana stores between 10 am and 6 pm from Saturday onwards, the residents say that the basic ration in the few stores that are open is too overpriced. “They are selling a sack of 10 kg flour for Rs 450-500, when its actual price is Rs 200-250. We cannot even make chapatis for our children, let alone getting vegetables and milk,” Rakesh, who works as a contractual house painter, and lives in Dhanas village with his family.

“We have been sending food to places that need it at a subsidised rate, so it should not be an issue. Also, I am sure they have some ration left and they will survive for a few days. We are aware of people’s needs and are doing our best to ensure everyone has access to basic resources,” claims an official of the administration.

“We have not received any ration here, and we cannot afford to buy overpriced rations. I can stay hungry for a bit longer, but my daughters cannot. We are planning to walk home on foot, at least I can feed my family there,” says Raja Ram.

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