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The cost of comfort

Anasuya Menon

Ageing people require constant medical help

— Photo: K. Ananthan

Maragatham Pillai Manoharan.

Ever since the rise in prices, paying medical bills has become a real problem for Maragatham Pillai Manoharan, working as Cost Assistant in a textile mill in Coimbatore.

“The cost of medicines has gone up and ageing people like us who require constant medical help are left with no option,” he says. A single trip to the hospital can cost somewhere around Rs.400, non-inclusive of medicines, he points out.

Mr.Manoharan, who is 56-years-old, earns Rs.10,000 a month, which, he says, is hardly sufficient to lead a comfortable life. His family includes wife and three married daughters. “Though my wife and I are staying alone in the quarters the company has provided, luxuries do not have a place in our lives. A huge chunk of my salary goes towards repayment of the loans I had taken for my youngest daughter’s wedding,” he says.

Adding to his concern is the company’s request to him to vacate the quarters. The burden of finding an accommodation is weighing him down. “The rent has gone up by Rs.500 in the last six months. A two-room house is not available for less than Rs.2,500 and the advance is ten times the rent,” he says.

When essential commodities such as food, including oil and milk have almost become unaffordable there is no need to mention land prices, which have obviously hit an all time high, Mr.Manoharan laments. In the last three months, he has not been able to save any money. “At the mill, the work is increasing but, the salary isn’t,” he says.

According to Mr.Manoharan, it is impossible to lead a comfortable life in the city without earning at least Rs.15,000 a month. Provisions and basic necessities such as clothes are unavoidable. “It is not possible to cut down expenses. The only way is to increase salary,” he says.

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