BHOPAL: Sanitation workers, water distributors, fruit and green grocers move in the Professor’s Colony in the city, despite lockdown due to the spread of covid-19.
Their calls shut down the stifling silence that prevails on the roads. This is happening when the colony has been declared confined area and sealed from all sides. All residents have been forlornly fenced into their homes since two coronavirus positive cases came to light in the colony.
Yet, the vegetable sellers cannot afford to remain inside. They have no means, barring selling vegetables and fruits, to meet both ends. The vendors wear masks and gloves. Hearing their calls, one or two persons in face masks emerge from their houses to buy vegetables. They, however, do not talk to one another. In normal times such scenes would merit a mention. But when a third of the world’s population is living under lockdown it is not abnormal.
The vendors told Free Press that they scarcely had any means to earn a living. So, if they remain indoors, fearing the coronavirus, they will die of hunger. Excerpts:
Prince Chauhan, sanitation worker
Agar hum nahi aayenge to kaam chhut jayega … (Unless we work daily, we will lose job.). People will not understand our problem. I got a call from my owner that if I don’t come someday, I will be out of job. My father is unwell. My brother and I are the bread winners in the family, so if we don’t work, we will die of hunger. My brother works in Lalghati area and I come to Professor’s Colony for doing sanitation work. For this, we have made pass from the police station. We wear masks and gloves and keep sanitizer. Though I have a pass policemen seized my vehicle in the morning yesterday. They, however, returned it in the evening. “Bahot pareshani hoti hai (we’re in trouble…),” he rued.
Kamal Singh, a green grocer
Pata nahi sahab koi bimari ho gayi hai... (I don’t know. Some disease may have spread). So I wear mask. Else the policemen do not allow people to enter the colony. They ask a lot of questions about my address and my destination. Bahot pareshani hai… (Problems are plenty), but nothing can be done about it. I am the sole bread winner in my family. I have two sons but they are not working. My wife has also stopped working now. I have to go to Karond Sabji Mandi at 4am. I return home at 4pm. I live outside TTI Gate, Polytechnic Square. Huge rush and long queue for buying vegetables can be seen in Mandi. It is very tough to buy vegetables from there.
Shahbez Khan, fruit seller
We come from Government Press, M P Nagar. Earlier, we used to sell fruits on handcarts, but now, we sell it on auto. We have permission from Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC). They permit us to sell it in ward 24 in the colony from 9am to 5pm. Our profit has become half. Earlier, our margin was Rs 10 per kg, but now, it is reduced to Rs 5. Most of people are not coming out from home. Ye sab virus ki wajah se ho raha hai…(it is happening due to the virus). That’s why we wear masks and gloves. We have to reach Mandi at 4am or 4.30am. Earlier we used to go there at 7am.
Rajesh Rajput, water distributor
We serve customers. They call us for water. We come from Govindpura. Before leaving home, we sanitize hands and wear masks and gloves. Earlier, we used provide water on alternate days. But now we distribute water only on Tuesdays and Fridays. Another reason is money. We do private job not the government one. If we don’t work, we won’t survive. You can see the condition of migrant or daily wages labourers. So, if we don’t work, we will die from hunger.