Amid lockdown, Rajasthan based broom makers struggle to survive

Amid lockdown, Rajasthan based broom makers struggle to survive
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Shopian, July 25: On a mud stove, set up outside their makeshift tarpaulin tent at bus stand Shopian, Anoopi is frying a chicken while her children in ragged clothes are playing with dust and candy wrappers.

Her husband and other members of the family are busy in making the brooms using palm leaves strewn around them.

The Rajasthan based family, which showed up in the town a few days before the authorities announced a lockdown following the second wave of COVID -19 is struggling hard to scrape a living by selling the brooms.

"Due to the COVID induced lockdown, we are unable to sell our merchandise", said Anoopi. She said that they could hardly afford two meals a day. "We eat only once a day. Some times we retire to bed without food", she said.

The family is forced to pick leftovers from garbage to feed itself. "My husband found this dead chicken on the roadside and I'm preparing it for the dinner,” Anoopi added.

Five to six such families are putting up in make shift tents at Batapora Bust Stand of the town.

The families have been selling the brooms in the area at least for last ten years and in the normal times, they would sell 100 to 150 pieces per day.

"Since lockdown we have been able to sell only a few brooms as we could not move outside this place", said Kali, another broom maker.

According to her, a piece sells for Rs 15 to Rs 20 and she along with her husband and children makes 20 to 25 brooms a day.

"The lock down has marred our livelihood severely and we are badly off,” said Kali.

Mangoo, who arrived in the town in mid April with a truck load of palm leaves from Rajasthan said that this year he had thought that there would be good business as there was no indication of lockdown due to scant number of COVID-19 cases.

"Little did we know that there would be a second wave", he said, adding that he paid Rs 50,000 for transporting the raw material to Kashmir.

The families complained that they were not helped by the local administration during the lockdown.

"No one from the district administration reached out to us," said Narayan, a young broom maker.

He, however, added that Video Volunteers (VV), a non-government organisation distributed ration kits among them.

Basharat Amin, a Video Volunteer from the area told Greater Kashmir that they gave food items to the migrant workers on priority basis.

The recent announcement of government to lift the lockdown has brought cheers to broom makers. "It will be a huge relief for us", said the poor families.

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