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2nd wave in Gujarat-R'sthan: 67% workers got less than 20 day work, 29% couldn't get ration

Average work over the last one month during the second wave
By Rajiv Shah 
A recent civil society survey, conducted to analyse the impact of the second Covid wave among informal sector workers of Gujarat and Rajasthan has, found that they were able to get work for just about 18 days in a month on an average. “In Ahmedabad construction workers at the nakas reported getting work for just eight days in a month”, the survey report, forwarded by the by the Centre for Labour Research and Action (CLRA) to Counterview, said, adding, “The basti residents of Ahmedabad reported just seven days of work.”
The survey was conducted in seven different locations: Ajmer and Bhilwara districts of Rajasthan, Mehsana, Dahod, Mahisagar, Ahmedabad and Surat districts of Gujarat. A total of 590 respondents (454 males and 136 females) participated. The survey report found that Rajasthan brick-kilns were still running, one reason why average working day among them was a high 24 days. “Similarly”, it said, “Sugarcane agriculture cutting work was in the process, so an average working day was 23 days.”
Food availability over the last one month
Other than these, construction work, agriculture work and domestic work showed shortage of work. At Surat nakas, more than 50% workers were seen returning without work. At Ahmedabad nakas, a much smaller number would reach nakas to be hired. Workers told the CLA team that they were not being called for work, also that they were asked to get Covid test before coming to work. In Mehsana, police did not allow workers to stand in nakas to get hired. In fact, 70 percent of the factory workers from Mehsana returned to their home because of this.
The report said, “Agriculture workers were equally affected. Vegetable market was affected and market price of vegetables had gone down. This led to hiring agriculture workers at less than the requirement. Farmers mentioned that they had not been able to pay wages to agriculture workers, hence they hired about two-thirds of of the required workers.”
Ration available with workers
Worse, the report noted, workers were found to be failing to get work under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), a Government of India flagship programme. In fact, it said, MGNREGS was “stopped” at several places because of the fear of the spread of Covid disease, and the reason given was people shouldn’t gather for work. “The sugarcane workers go to Maharashtra after finishing cutting work at sugarcane fields in Surat. But they were not able to go this time because of the lockdown in Maharashtra”, the report said.
With 67 percent of workers getting less than 20 days of work, this impacted their daily earnings for ration and food. Thus, said the report, 29 percent of the workers reported that they could not access ration, while 71 percent reported they had been facing food shortage at home.
Awareness about government scheme for free ration 
While only 15 percent of workers had one month of ration, 47 percent of workers – mainly those working in brick kilns – said, they had ration sufficient for a week. Many workers in Ahmedabad and Surat, who recently came back from their home, brought ration with them. However, about five percent complained that they didn’t have any ration left with them. “In Mehsana many workers faced ration shortage. Many took ration from shops at credit, but they were able to take it only for a few days”, the report said.
The respondents were asked about the awareness of the government announcement for free ration. “Only 17 percent of workers said they were aware of this”, the report said, adding, “Just about 14 respondents said they were getting free rations from ration shops.” The government has announcement free ration for May and June month.
Treatment available during sickness
As for the spread of the deadly virus, especially in rural areas, 32 percent of the respondents reported they had “fallen sick”, while the rest said did not have any symptoms of the disease. According to the report, the surveying CLRA team “faced hesitation while getting answers about Covid and vaccination. Many of the workers refused to answer questions. Fear of hospitalisation, rising number of deaths due to Covid, vaccination myths were high among the respondents.”
About 78 percent of the respondents, who mentioned sickness, reported having developed fever, cough, body-ache, diarrhoea, throat pain, stomach-ache, breathlessness etc. They told the survey team that they took medicines from a nearby hospital for treatment. Another 11 percent respondents “treated themselves at home”, while 9 percent took medicines from a quack. “None of them was hospitalized for treatment”, the reports said.
Covid vaccination among workers
Further, 27 percent of the respondents said they had got themselves tested for Covid. A few of them said that, while travelling from one district to anther, their Covid test was conducted. Only 13 percent reported that had tested Covid positive. The number of positive Covid cases was higher among Ahmedabad nakas areas and Santrampur of the Mahisagar district.
On being asked about the pandemic situation in back home, 109 of 590 respondents reported Corona cases in their village, while 103 reported death in their village. The number of deaths reported was higher in Santrampur of Mahisagar district and among sugarcane labour of Dang district. The report said, this was mainly because migrant workers came back to their home after working elsewhere.
On the status of vaccination, only five percent of respondents said they had been vaccinated. The maximum of these were from Rajasthan’s brick-kiln units. They took vaccines at their village camp. While 36 percent of the respondents said that they would take to be vaccinated “in future”, 64 percent were not willing. The reasons reported related to myths prevalent about vaccinates, with many fearing death on taking it.

Comments

Tulsi Patel said…
Suffering on the rise. Digital media is to be used to communicate about free ration and medicines at least.

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