Daily earners hit hardest by prohibitory orders in LumbiniThe workers have no source of income and have received no relief from the authorities and social organisations during the ongoing second coronavirus wave.
Forty-six-year-old Phursa Bahadur Mahat lives in a rented room with his three children and wife in Sainamaina Municipality Ward No. 1, Rupandehi.
Before the start of the prohibitory orders in Rupandehi, Mahat used to earn his livelihood as a daily wage worker. But he is now struggling to feed his family, as he has been unable to find any work for the last one-and-a-half months.
“Me and my family can barely manage two square meals a day and it’s time to enroll my children to school. I don’t have any source of income because of the prohibitory orders. I feel hopeless,” said Mahat.
Another Usha Gurung from Nepalgunj, along with her two-year-old daughter, reached Butwal last week. She plans to go to Kathmandu to find a job.
“I left my town because I could not find any work. There’s nothing left to eat in my house and I have no money or source of income because of the ongoing prohibitory orders,” said Gurung, who is currently staying in Butwal with the help of a social organisation.
All 12 districts in Lumbini Province are under prohibitory orders enforced to contain surging Covid-19 infections. The restrictions have affected everyone but it’s the daily wage earners that have been hit the hardest. They have no source of income at present and none of the local units have announced relief and income-generating programmes for them.
Parashu Chaudhary from a freed Kamaiya (bonded labourer) camp in Dhangadhi, Kailali, ekes out his living as a rickshaw puller. He has been jobless since the Kailali District Administration Office enforced prohibitory orders in the district since April 29.
“I had saved around Rs 20,000 for rainy days but I’ve spent all my savings. I had to take out a loan from my neighbours to feed my family,” Chaudhary said. “Nobody has provided any relief to us. Daily wage earners like me will die of starvation if the authority continues the prohibitory orders.”
Chaudhary’s neighbour, Bishanlal Chaudhary, faces a similar ordeal.
“It has been one-and-half months since the authority imposed the prohibitory orders. But neither the Dhangadhi Sub-metropolitan City nor any organisations has provided relief to us,” he said, urging the concerned authorities to address the hardships faced by impoverished families in the district.
There are 68 families in the freed Kamaiya camp. According to Sitaram Tharu, a local leader in the camp, almost all 68 families are daily wage workers and have been greatly affected by the prohibitory orders.
“Nobody has come forward to help us,” Tharu said.
During last year’s lockdown, local units in Lumbini had distributed relief, including food grains, cooking oil and other essentials, to the needy families. But this year, no such programmes have been announced so far.
Ram Prasad Regmi, spokesperson at the Butwal Sub Metropolitan City Office, says his office is preparing a plan to help impoverished families in the current situation.
“The ward offices have been asked to collect details of all families in need of relief and make recommendations,” Regmi said.
According to Tilottama Municipality Mayor Basudev Ghimire, his office did not distribute relief this year, as around 1,000 local residents are currently working for a government project and receiving regular wages.
In Gaidahawa Rural Municipality, relief distribution programmes have not been launched this year, as disputes had erupted during last year's distribution programme, said Chairman Bachhulal Kewat.
“However, we are providing some relief to the needy families through our ward offices,” he said.
Despite the prohibitory orders in place, construction and agricultural works and industries have been allowed to operate in Rupandehi.
“We have not imposed restrictions on labourers this year. That is why we did not feel the need to launch relief distribution programmes,” said Chief District Officer of Rupandehi Asman Tamang.
Meanwhile, the ward chairman of Dhangadhi-1 Santosh Mudabari said that the local unit could not distribute relief to the needy people this year due to a shortage of funds.
“We have used up all our funds to fight the virus. We are unable to distribute relief this year due to budget shortage,” Mudabari said.