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Friday, Sep 23, 2005
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HYDERABAD: Trends are reversing for the famed Palamur labourers who migrated over the years to the State Capital from the neighbouring Mahabubnagar district.
Decades ago, it was drought that brought them to Hyderabad in search of daily bread. Now, ironically, incessant rain is forcing them to seek other options. The problem, however, is that options are few.
On Wednesday, a motley group of labourers from Koka-ki-Thatti near Hussaini Alam in the old city assembled for a dharna in front of the district Collectorate.
The ashen faces said it all. No work, no money. No ration cards, no food. Houses, after all, were always fantasy stuff. "It is 25 years since I came to Hyderabad. Unlike those days, nobody wants our skills or hard work anymore," says Ramulu, a mason by skill and a part-time coolie by fate.
A native of Maddur in Mahabubnagar, Ramulu's situation back in his village is no different. "Twenty years, and do you think anything will be left there?" he asks.
Lalitha, from Kommur in Jadcherla, says her family, comprising herself and two children were forced out of their one-room tenement in Koka-ki-Thatti since she did not pay rent, Rs.200 a month, for two months. "We sleep on the road, even when it is raining," she cries.
Their votes count!
G. Kommareddy, a mason from Achampet, says work for at least four days a month will keep starvation away from most of the 400-odd labourers in Koka-ki-Thatti. "A mason is paid Rs. 150 a day, male labourers around Rs. 120 and female workers, around Rs. 100 a day. The sad part is that contractors now get cheaper labour from other States. We get only leftover work, if any," Komareddy says.
Krishna, a painter from Gangapur village, says hopes flare up during elections. Political parties shower affection and even when these labourers have no ration cards, manage to make them vote. "I don't know how we are eligible. But we have voted several times. As usual, we are forgotten after elections."
"Attending political rallies is lucrative. Rs. 100 with a sachet of you-know-what is better than being jobless for weeks," adds Kommareddy, hinting that there is some light ahead, temporary though. Municipal elections, we mean.
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