Dhanbad street vendors struggle to survive during lockdown

Empty fast food carts stand idle in front of the Ozone Galleria Mall at Saraidhela-Govindpur road in Dhanbad on Friday.
Gautam Dey

The state-wide lockdown has impacted over five thousand roadside fast food sellers across the district, many of whom don’t have ration cards and are thus facing difficulty to manage food grains to survive.

Those with ration cards however are also facing difficulty in managing medical expenses of ailing family members besides procuring vegetables and paying the rent of their accommodations with zero income during the lockdown.

A survey by the Dhanbad unit of National Association for Street Vendors Association of India indicated that only 50% of street vendors have ration cards.

Sneham Sinha, district coordinator of NASVI said, “Integrating the fast food sellers with the online food delivery platforms can be of some help and the government and administration should seriously think over this.”
Raj Kumar Yadav, a chaat seller near Big Bazar locality of Dhanbad said, “We have somehow survived the six months closure of last year during the first wave of Covid spending our limited savings but since we were not prepared for the lockdown this year we are facing difficulty in managing even foodgrains and are compelled to procure food and medicine taking debts.”

Yadav added that seven persons including his wife, three children, a younger brother and elderly parents are dependent on his income of Rs 10,000 per month.

Ginni Singh, a Kulcha seller of Saraidhela locality said, “Me along with my two younger brothers operate the road side stall to somehow manage the expenses of 12 people in our family, with around Rs 25,000 joint income per month but since the closure of the shop we are struggling to survive.”

“We have applied for a ration card two years ago but are still to get the same and had there been the card we would not have faced difficulty in at least procuring food grains,” said Singh.

Jitu Kumar, a chhole bhature seller said, “Though we have ration cards and somehow manage the foodgrains from PDS shop, the house rent of Rs 4000 is weighing too heavy for my family with zero income for over a fortnight.”

Shyamal Mazumdar, district convenor of Path Vikreta Samanvaya Samiti, said “It is high time that the government should provide Rs 10,000 as immediate relief to all the street vendors and waive off the repayment requirement of Rs 10,000 loan provided to a limited number of vendors under the Pradhan Mantri Street Vendors Atma Nirbhar Nidhi Yojna.

“We are exploring the option of integrating these street vendors with online food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato so their products can be supplied and they can have some income,” said Sumit Kumar Singh, City Manager of National Urban Livelihood Mission project of Dhanbad Municipal Corporation.

[Source: Telegraph India]

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