Pradeep Pattanayak

In Bhubaneswar, there are markets sitting regularly at different locations like Lingaraj Station Square, Old Town, Kalpana Square, Ravi Talkies Square, VSS Nagar etc. These markets are altogether different from other markets. 

What makes them stand out from others is the fact that here human beings are sold. Yes! You have got it right. Here people-both males and females-sell themselves. 

A believer of the saying ‘The early bird catches the worm’, Simachal Behera, a resident of Old Town area, gets up early in the morning and after completing his daily chores leaves for Harachandi Sahi near Lingaraj Temple. 

There he waits for someone who will take him along to do some works. Sometimes, he goes alone and sometimes, in groups. At the end of the day, he returns home with a wage of Rs 500 or so. There are also such days, when he has to return home empty-handed as he gets no work. 

Like him, hundreds of daily wagers with spades, crowbars and baskets gather here and other such places in the morning. 

As beggars can't be choosers, they also don’t have any choice for work. Since they have to feed some empty stomachs back home, they accept any kind of work starting from digging holes to carrying bricks. The day when they return home without any work, they have to make do with whatever is available at home. Their problems become more serious during the festive seasons. For such seasons, they have to work hard to meet their family demands. 

These labourers across the city are facing some other problems as well. 

They said they have to wait for hours till getting their employers, braving inclement weather conditions. They demanded a shed and drinking water facility at the locations where they congregate. 

A labourer from Kargil Slum area, Sanjay said, “We are facing a lot of problems. As we don’t have a place to take shelter, our problems become more serious when it rains. If a shed is constructed here, we would be immensely benefitted.”