Many Zaveri Bazaar workers out of jobs; find their homes destroyed by Cyclone Amphan

Updated: May 23, 2020, 07:00 IST | Shirish Vaktania | Mumbai

Many of the two lakh workers in Zaveri Bazaar jewellery units have not been paid since March; now news comes of their homes being destroyed by Cyclone Amphan, some are unable to contact their kin

Families survey their homes damaged in the cyclone at Kharagpur, West Midnapore district, West Bengal, on Thursday. Pic/PTI
Families survey their homes damaged in the cyclone at Kharagpur, West Midnapore district, West Bengal, on Thursday. Pic/PTI

COVID-19 and Cyclone Amphan have come as a double whammy for jewellery market Zaveri Bazar's workers from West Bengal who have been jobless since March and now have lost their homes in the storm. Most of the over 2.5 lakh jewellery makers employed in the market are from West Bengal.

While there are regular Shramik trains to Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, there haven't been many services to West Bengal.

Santu Sardar, a worker from Pargana Baruipur village in West Bengal said, "I lost my home in Cyclone Amphan. My entire family is missing. I have contacted around 35 friends but none have been able to locate them. I am stuck in Mumbai and no one is helping us."

Raju Pal, jewellery maker
Raju Pal, jewellery maker

Another jewellery maker, Raju Pal, a resident of Nalikul village in Hoogli district said, "My family is safe but my home has disappeared. My family is living at a relative's place now. I lost my job after this lockdown and don't even have money to return home. State government should also help us to go home. In the village, our mango farm is also destroyed. I am staying in Zaveri Bazar with other workers. I want to return home."

"I came here to earn money but the conditions have worsened both here and in the village. We are farmers and apart from our mango farm, my work was the source of income," Raju added.

Santu Sardar, jewellery maker, Santra, jewellery maker
Santu Sardar, jewellery maker, Mahananda Santra, jewellery maker

Another worker, Mahananda Santra from Hoogli district, said, "I received my salary for March but now I am jobless. My employer also told me to return to my native place. I want to go, my family has been missing since the cyclone hit. I am trying to contact them but they are not traceable. I am worried and helpless."

Subtendu Pal, jewellery maker
Subtendu Pal, jewellery maker

Worker Santanu Das said, "The state governments should take the responsibility of sending us home. For the past two months, we haven't ventured outside. Our employers have closed the shops and no one is helping. Two days ago, my food also got exhausted. We workers are helping each other survive."

Sanjay Sardar, Subhamkar Sardar, Habib Shaikh and Santu belong to Pargana Baruipur. They had registered themselves with the local police station but haven't received a response. The police told them that workers are being sent only to UP and Rajasthan. Subtendu Pal, a resident of Hargovindpur in Barddhaman district, too lost his home and has not been able to contact his family. "I have been trying to contact them but all are unreachable. I want to reach home at any cost," Subtendu said.

No transport available

Kumar Jain, president of Shree Mumbai Jewellers Association told mid-day, "Zaveri Bazaar has over 2.5 lakh workers who are mostly from West Bengal. They specialise in jewellery designing. We supplied food till last month but due to restrictions, we are unable to supply more. But whenever there is a request for food, we ensure that something reaches them in time. We are also trying to make arrangements for their travel via bus but have not been able to get the permissions."

Many workers are out of grains and have been helping feed each other
Many workers are out of grains and have been helping feed each other

"Only one Shramik Special has gone to West Bengal so far because of Cyclone Amphan. There are no trains available right now, all doors are closed. Most of the people are going by bus and spending R8,000-R10,000 for the trip.These workers will not return to Mumbai after this experience. Zaveri Bazar's future is at risk. To build trust again is next to impossible. They have been here for over two decades but in this worst possible situation, no one is with them," said Kalidas Sinha Roy, general secretary of Bengali Swarna Shilpi Kalyan Sangh of Zaveri Bazaar.

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