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Bowbazar Subsidence

Jobless jewellery workers from Durga Pituri Lane wait for employers’ call

Some artisans take up odd jobs close to their houses to tide over the crisis

Kinsuk Basu | Published 24.05.22, 08:00 AM
Since the tragedy struck on May 11, businessmen who would hire such skilled hands have been going around parts of Calcutta’s gold hub looking for a place to set up their workshops on rent.

Since the tragedy struck on May 11, businessmen who would hire such skilled hands have been going around parts of Calcutta’s gold hub looking for a place to set up their workshops on rent.

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At least 60 men who worked in 25 jewellery workshops in Bowbazar’s Durga Pituri Lane are waiting eagerly for a call from their employers and have nothing to fall back on for their sustenance since the May 11 disaster.

Work on the underground corridor of East-West Metro had led to subsidence and cracks in a number of buildings in the narrow lane in central Kolkata, displacing more than 154 people.

A few of the workers have taken up odd jobs close to their houses in districts days after the disaster, which hit Bowbazar for the second time in just about three years.

“I have taken up a job in a grocery store near my home in Howrah. The shop-owner will be paying way less than what I used to get in Bowbazar,” said Kashinath Bhakta, from Bagnan in Howrah, who has been making ornamental balls for gold jewellery for many years.

Ki korbo? Barite toh puro poribar aache. Tader jonnyo kaaj ta nilam (What to do? I have a family back home. I took up the job for them)” said the father of a son and a daughter. His parents are ailing and he has only his wife to look after them.

Around lanes and bylanes of Bowbazar, people like Kashinath have been engaged in various aspects of ornament manufacturing such as cutting, making plates and balls, and polishing.

Since the tragedy struck on May 11, businessmen who would hire such skilled hands have been going around parts of Kolkata’s gold hub looking for a place to set up their workshops on rent.

Finding a place has not been easy because rents have shot through the roof.

Most of these workers said they have no job to do.

“We are eagerly waiting for our employers to find a place to set up their workshops and call us to resume work,” said Uday Hait, a resident of Udaynarayanpur in Howrah.

Uday and two others, Sanjit Hazra and Debasish Mondal, worked for Gautam Hazra, who had his workshop at 17 Durga Pituri Lane. They would start with cutting gold plates into smaller pieces and then mould them into ornaments before polishing them for the final look.

“The shops where our employers would supply the ornaments are shying away from placing orders. So even if one takes up a place on rent, getting orders won’t be easy,” said Raj Kumar Pandit, a worker from Ghatal in West Midnapore.

“The system of receiving orders and delivering them has been disrupted,” said Paritosh Kar, one of the jewellers.

Officials of the KMRC, implementing agency of East-West Metro, said they were yet to finalise any scheme for the displaced ornament traders. “We have received a list of displaced traders from the local councillor. We will conduct a survey and then decide on the next course of action,” said an official.

Last updated on 24.05.22, 08:00 AM
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