COVID-19 Restrictions Leave Odisha Porters In Lurch
Berhampur: The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns and shutdowns are having a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of people. With limited sources of income and deducted salaries, people belonging to middle class and lower middle class are suffering to make the ends meet and coolies (porters) in Odisha’s Ganjam district are no exception.
With fewer trains running and less number of passengers preferring to travel in the wake of the pandemic, as many as 50 coolies in the worst COVID-19 –hit Ganjam district are failing to manage two-time meal a day.
“We used to earn Rs 300-400 per day during normal days. But due to the pandemic, no trains halt at Berhampur station which has resulted in the loss of our source of income,” said Babula Patra, a coolie.
Echoing the same voice P Lachheya, another coolie said, “This is the first time when we are experiencing such crisis. Earlier during cyclones, the train services affected but situation used to limp back to normalcy within two-three days. This is a very tough time for us.”
Among the coolies, there are few well educated, who have adopted this mean of carrying luggages of passengers to earn their livelihood. One Nagesh, who is perusing his Master’s Degree in Arts, earns his bread and butter by working as a coolie at Berhampur station. But with no source of income to fund his studies and run family, Nagesh is now gazing at an uncertain future.
“I used run my family and fund my studies by working at the station at night. But this pandemic has thrown me to a deep end. I am suffering from severe financial crisis,” Nagesh said.
(Edited By Ramakanta Biswas)