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8 Dec 2016

Ghar wapsi after note ban

Manoj Kar and Sunil Patnaik, TT, Kendrapara/ Berhampur, Dec. 7: Demonetisation has brought 42-year-old Prasant Baidya on forced leave to his native village of Pitapata in Kendrapara district. A plumber with a decent monthly income, Baidya had no option but to return home with cash crunch bringing plumbing activities to a halt in Surat, where he was employed.
"After the note ban, our employers had no cash left to pay us. Even those who sought our services deferred their projects. So instead of whiling away my time, I thought of visiting home," said Baidya, who was earning Rs 20,000 every month and supplemented the income of his fishermen family.
The situation post-demonetisation is more or less the same for Odia migrant workers employed in other states, mainly Gujarat.
Scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes has rendered lakhs of labourers from Kendrapara and Ganjam employed in Surat jobless. Most of them are coming back home.
"Mill owner was paying me in demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. Work had also reduced and we were forced to spend days without food," said Surya Behera of Tarasingh village in Aska. Behera, who worked in a textile industry in Surat, said that in the present crisis returning home was the only option left to him.
A native of Banarpalli, textile worker Ramesh Sethi has quit his job in Surat as daily wage opportunities had nose-dived. "We were getting work only for two days a week and it was very difficult for us to earn a livelihood," he said.
Labour officer of Ganjam, Dipti Ranjan Mohanty, said that about 3 lakh labourers from the district worked in the various textile mills, diamond cutting units and ship wrecking factories in Surat.
"We are now collecting information about the situation in Surat and the plight of the labourers working there. We would definitely take steps to protect the interest of our labourers," Mohanty said. The labourers are being registered at panchayat level to make their identification easy.
The migrants to Gujarat and other places from Kendrapara are mainly plumbers. Shankarshan Behera, who hails from Gupti, was working as a plumber in Bhopal when demonetisation happened.
"The move has badly hit the skilled labour force from our district. Our daily work in Bhopal dipped after note ban and I was forced to return home. For last one month, I have not earned a penny," he said.
Kendrapara district collector Muralidhar Mallik said: "This is a temporary phenomenon. The skilled labour force would go back to their workplaces shortly."

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