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Covid-19, lockdown cripple rural life, economy in Telangana

G Naga Sridhar Vikarabad (Telangana) | Updated on May 03, 2020 Published on May 03, 2020

The Covid-19 and the consequent nationwide lockdown are crippling day-to-day life and economy in the countryside, as seen in rural Telangana.

Petty businesses like roadside shops, electrical and vehicle repair services, small farmers and-wage labourers have been hit severely in the nearly 40 days’ lockdown.

There is trouble and pain everywhere, BusinessLine noted a field survey of about half a dozen villages in the Vikarabad and Tandur mandals of rural Telangana.

“I have been opening my shop everyday for the last one month, but could not even sell things worth ₹300 till now,” V Yadayya, who runs a petty shop near the village of Shapur, said.

Before the lockdown, he used to earn ₹500 a day by selling biscuits, tea and refreshments. He has been running the shop, set up three years ago, by availing a Mudra loan on his wife’s name.

The life of those who run garages and puncture-repair shops on State highways that adjoin service roads to villages has become terrible with no vehicle movement.

Wage earners

Most poor villagers who earn their bread as daily wagers have neither work nor money. “Even farm activities are not happening much, and whatever is happening, is mostly managed by family labour, leaving wage earners in despair,” Spoorthy, the sarpanch of the village of Turmamidi, said.

Though agricultural activities are allowed, maintaining social distance is a challenge and people are worried about work and employment, she added.

Turmamidi, which has a population of 8,000 (including 5,000 voters), has not fully received the relief packages. “Some people are yet to get ration supplies as well as ₹1,500 being given by the State government,” Spoorthy said.

Storage centres for maize and other crops are the need of the hour in many rural areas, she added.

Enquiries with a few women showed that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana benefits through the Jan Dhan Yojana accounts had not reached them.

“I have my account with SBI and not received any thing. Will you please help me?” asked Indramma, a farm labourer in Mannegudem village.

Nowhere to sell

The region is known for cultivation of vegetables, red gram and maize besides flowers.

“My entire crop of flowers and beetroot has gone waste as there are no buyers. I am trying to reach markets in Hyderabad (which is 80 km away) on my own but its difficult as well as unavailable in terms of costs,” Krishna, another farmer in Mannegudem, said.

Most villages have now banned entry of outsiders to the weekly markets and are trying to sell vegetables door to door at a throwaway price.

No cops

Interestingly, other than on the main roads, no cops are seen in these villages. A sarpanch of a village in the Tandur division, who did not want to be identified, said at least one constable should be kept in villages, as some people refuse to adhere to guidelines.

“There is hunger and deprivation for many poor here. In towns and cities, there will be many to help and donate. But our troubles here are going unnoticed. We need greater support,” he said.

But one can sense the resignation among villagers that the pandemic and difficulties are inevitable, and, hopefully, there will be a light at the end of this tunnel.

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Published on May 03, 2020
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