Kolkata: 34-year-old Vishnu walks 10 kms everyday, the fastest he can every day to his office. Many a times the strenuous long walk causes him to fall ill. When people around him asks him to take rest, he knows it will only cause his troubles to increase.
“We have no one by us. I don’t know how to keep up with the situation. I walk from Howrah district to girish park area in kolkata everyday. Many a times the strenuous walk causes me to fall ill. If I do not walk then, The little that I earn stops and the troubles increase.” Vishnu Kumar Singhania, a daily commuter iterated.
Not knowing how to repay the huge amounts of loan with so little to earn he said, “I don’t how to run my household anymore. I’m burdened with loans. Due to the lockdown I have steady source of income. My ‘babu’ asks me to go to the shop to earn at least something so as to be able to eat. But even his business is in a bad shape.”
With trains and special buses available only for employees of essential services including government employees, the ones who have to go to office everyday are struggling to reach there and make a living.
Devendra Kumar Gupta another daily commuter has a similar story to share. He manages to walk 8 kms everyday to the Howrah station so that he does not lose his job. He asks why are transport facilities made available to Government officials, but for people like him the only option is to walk to work or pay fines on boarding trains?
“Trains are running for government employees. They earn hefty amounts of money. People like us who hardly manage to earn 7 to 8 thousand rupees have to pay fines of Rs 500 or 1000 if we somehow manage to reach Howrah station. They have families. Don’t we have families too? Don’t we have kids to feed at home. If you have to operate trains operate for all! Or at least give us some aid and facility. At least have some buses ply. Where we, poor people will go? How we come to work everyday, only we know. THere is nothing to eat at home. Where do we go? We have to walk 7-8 km everyday,” he says.
Thousands of people travel to Kolkata everyday from nearby districts to earn a living. But without any mode of transportation made available to them, they are left with no other option but to walk miles or avail the railways after being fined.
“Trains are running. But on boarding trains people are caught and asked to pay fine. Only for medical staff. We are poor people. How are we supposed to make a living?” says a daily commuter.
Mohan Sharma, another commuter mentions, “I avail the train from Hind Motor till Howrah. There some passengers are suddenly stopped and made to pay fine. People who have no earning member at home will have to make a living. If they do not go to work, where will the money come from? It pains a lot. If someone falls sick at home, they’ll need money..”
The government of west bengal has opened shops with variety strength ranging from 10% to 25% and even 50% in selected business verticals with vaccinated employees.
Buses and Trains are not plying but employers are allowed to arrange for travel of their employees.
While others wonder, why are all transport facilities made available only for government employees.
However not many employees are able to provide or the distance is impractical rather unaffordable too.
People who are striving hard to feed their families are finding themselves in a situation so baffled as they themselves do not know if most of the money they earn each day goes into paying fines, what would they take back home?
“Where do we go? We are fined on boarding trains. We earn 200-300 rupees. If money for fine goes from this amount then what do we earn?” said a commuter.
“I don’t understand why are official people given the opportunity to board trains and buses while there’s nothing for us,” the commuter added.