Express News Service
ONGOLE: Vallepu Srinu and Ramanamma from Santhanuthalapadu mandal are construction workers. For the past 10 days, they are jobless as most of the projects have stopped due to the ongoing lockdown.
K Tirupathi Rao, a head mason and who leads a union of 100 daily wagers, daily sits on the Kurnool Road Flyover junction, hoping to get a call from contractors in and around Ongole.
Rao says he has got only two jobs after the lockdown came into force and earned just about Rs 1,500. “These are hard times for me and men like me who are dependent on the construction industry. Though the government has extended support by providing us free rice and vegetables, their quantities are insufficient for an entire family. Until the construction sector starts functioning again, we will be in trouble and don’t know when will our problems be solved,” Tirupathi Rao adds.
Thousands of daily wagers in Prakasam are being subjected to similar problems arising due to the pandemic. According to the government statistics, the district has around 90,000 construction workers and 10,000-15,000 men who are painters, slab workers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. Since the day when the lockdown began, the daily wagers have been struggling to make a living as construction works, both public and private, have stalled. While some get help from individuals, NGOs, social organisations and the government, a majority are still awaiting some sort of assistance.
District Water Management Agency (DWMA) project director Seena Reddy says: “Planning for employing more daily wagers through the MGNREGA scheme is underway. The workers may may contact our local field officers and get work by showing their job cards. Even, discussions on other opportunities for the workers are also being held.”