Varanasi boatmen face financial hardships, say on the 'brink of poverty'

Boats are seen docked at Assi Ghat during a protest by boatmen against the newly-inaugurated cruise services which they claimed hampers their livelihood, in Varanasi | Photo: PTI
Boatmen on the bank of river Ganga say they are facing financial hardships even as relaxations are extended during unlock 1.

Speaking to ANI, one of the boatmen Babu Sahni said that the situation is pushing them on the brink of poverty. "We have followed all the lockdown guidelines. Everyone is getting permission to resume their work but we have not got any order. The situation is pushing us on the brink of poverty. We did not even get help from Government," he said.

"The government seems to be unhappy with us. They have not announced anything for our community. We are somehow managing to survive by doing other jobs," he added.

Surname Majhi, another boatman said: "Our community is suffering. We are involved in this business for long. We have no means of earning other than this. We are requesting the government to pay attention to our problems and help us."

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on May 30 issued new guidelines for phased re-opening of "all activities outside containment zones for the next one month beginning June 1".

"The guidelines came into effect from June 1, 2020, and will be effective till June 30, 2020. The current phase of re-opening, Unlock 1, will have an economic focus," MHA said in a release.

The country was under the fourth phase of lockdown which continued till May 31. The lockdown was first enforced in March to contain the spread of coronavirus.

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