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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

Dhanbad railway porters in dire straits amid lockdown travel curbs

Phased suspension of trains and passengers opting to carry own luggage hit income

Praduman Choubey Dhanbad Published 15.05.21, 05:24 PM
Porters wait for passengers at Dhanbad railway station on Saturday.

Porters wait for passengers at Dhanbad railway station on Saturday. Gautam Dey

Around 100 porters of Dhanbad Railway station are bearing the economic brunt of the state-wide lockdown with gradual suspension of train operations for more than a month leading to a sharp dip in daily income.

The porters, majority of whom are migrant workers, have already left for their respective villages.

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Ranjit Kumar, a porter at Dhanbad Railway station said, “Dhanbad station being one of the busiest of the region having large inflow of around 20,000 passengers per day, we used to earn around Rs 1000 per day but now we are getting one passenger after two to three days.”

“After the lockdown of last March we faced extremely difficult days for four- five months due to complete suspension of operation of all trains," said Kumar.

Though, the situation improved a bit till November to December last year with restoration of around 50% of trains but we are almost back to square one this year with the aggravated pandemic and resultant phase wise suspension of trains,” said Kumar, who is also president of Dhanbad Railway Coolie association.

Ritlal Yadav, another porter at the station said, “Our main income was from Coal field express besides Rajdhani express and Shatabdi express but due to recent suspension of both Shatabdi express and Coal field express again we are getting very few passengers.”

“While majority of the trains are cancelled, a few which are operating are also lying almost vacant with maximum five- six passengers travelling in each bogey,” said Yadav and added that the majority of passengers are preferring to carry their own luggage rather than letting anyone touch it for fearing the spread of the virus .

Yadav said, “Though my wife and children were living here along with me but due to increased income I have sent them to my native place at Gaya in Bihar where we have some agricultural land so that they can grow crops and earn a bit to somehow pass the difficult times.”

“Though we have received some support from voluntary organisations in the form of food grains during last year’s lockdown, we have not received any support this year and finding it difficult to manage the family expenses of five including my three school going children,” said Sakal Kumar, another porter of Dhanbad.

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