Managing committees of many markets in the city have started providing food for drivers of goods vehicles, van rickshaw pullers and labourers to stop them for leaving for their hometowns, which will disrupt the supply chain of essential food commodities from wholesale markets to retail outlets.
Many members of this labour force — which forms an important cog in the delivery chain of food commodities — have already left the city fearing tough times during the three-week lockdown without food and shelter.
The impact can already be felt with most wholesale outlets in Posta and Burrabazar staying shut despite presence of stock in their godowns because there are no labourers to pack and deliver them to retail outlets.
“If the remaining labourers also leave, we will be in a very critical situation because they are going to play a crucial role in keeping the shelves replenished,” said Tarak Nath Trivedi, secretary of the Entally market committee.
More than 125 people were fed khichdi in the afternoon and preparations were afoot for making dinner. “From unloading goods from vehicles to ferrying essential commodities from the wholesale markets, we are heavily dependent on them. A couple of days into the lockdown, many of them approached us as eateries where they would normally eat, were shut. We decided to take care of the food for who were still here,” said Trivedi.
Most of the labourers working in these markets is from the neighbouring state. Numerous eateries in the central business district that sell food for much less, function as their lifeline. Most of them sleep inside the markets or in their vehicles. The eatery owners are not opening fearing backlash from cops, leaving thousands of labourers hunting for food.
When CM Mamata Banerjee visited Posta on Thursday, many traders raised the issue with her. She instructed the cops to shift the labourers to rest houses in the area and hire more local people for the work. On Friday, khichdi was made for almost 250 people by the Posta Bazar Merchants’ Association.
“Not a single eatery is open in Posta or Burrabazar. In a meeting with the cops on Thursday evening, we requested them to ensure some eateries open so that these labourers can get food. Till then, we will provide them with lunch and dinner,” said an office bearer of the association.
Many who were planning to leave for some relatives’ place in the suburbs have changed their
Source: Times of India