Mumbai's world-famous dabbawalas are among those severely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed.
Under normal circumstances, about 5,000 dabbawalas were part of the intricate network that delivers food to offices from their homes. But with 95 per cent of business closed, only 350 dabbawalas are on the move.
At present, dabbawalas are not allowed to travel on the local trains, forcing many to travel 40 to 45 kilometers daily by cycle. Many have taken up temporary work to make ends meet.
Vishnu Kaldoke, a spokesperson of Mumbai's dabbawalas said that help has been sought from the government but they are yet to receive any kind of relief.
"The government has promised to help but we have not received any help from yet. Mumbai's dabbawalas are following all COVID-19 rules but now we desperately need financial help. They should allow us to travel by local train," he said.
Kaldoke is currently struggling to support his family. He has school-going children to look after and fears that they may not be able to complete their education.
"I am very grateful to Mumbaikars who have helped us during this difficult time. But the government should also take note of this, provide financial assistance and allow us to travel by the local train," he said.
Maharashtra has been observing 'strict restrictions' for over a month after cases crossed record numbers in April.
Under the guidelines, all establishments, public places, activities have remained closed in the state. Only essential services have been exempted, and their operations are unrestricted.
Cinema halls, theatres, auditoriums, amusement parks, gyms, sports complexes have remained closed under Section 144. Only employees of essential services, hotels and restaurants are on the local train.
Cases have come down considerably over the last week. 24,136 new COVID cases, 36,176 patient discharges, and 601 were reported deaths on Wednesday.
There are currently 3,14,368 active cases in the state. A total of 52,18,768 discharges and 90,349 deaths have been reported so far.