India: Floriculturists and workers Delhi await government help

Even as the country wages its battle against novel coronavirus amid a nationwide lockdown, floriculturists and plant nursery owners and their workers near the Akshardham temple in Delhi are finding it difficult to feed their families in the absence of livelihood.

There are about 1,500 workers living in Yamuna Khadar in east Delhi who are involved in cultivation of flowers. Most hail from Uttar Pradesh's Pratapgarh but residing in Delhi for the last one and a half decades. For most, raising and tending to flowering, ornamental plants grown in Yamuna floodplains in the national capital, and then picking flowers to sell in the market was part of the daily routine before the lockdown was imposed.

Many people too visited to pick flowering and other indoor and outdoor plants for their gardens or flowers planted in pots. But for the last one month, there are no buyers and these workers and owners are wilted. Speaking to IANS, Amarpal, who runs a nursery behind the Khel Gaon society near the newly built Delhi-Meerut expressway, said: "We live in huts on Yamuna plains and depend on plant nursery business for our livelihood. Ever since the lockdown was announced, we have lost all business. Now, I have no money to feed my family."

Amarpal, who hails from Uttar Pradesh''s Badayuin, said he has 70-year-old bedridden mother besides other family members to take care of. Pointing towards his mother, he said: "She has been bedridden for the last nine months. And now we have no means to take her to hospital whenever she complains of pain." Asked if they have received free ration from the Delhi government in the last one month, he said: "No one from the government has come to give food or ration to us." He said only few people from some NGOs came to deliver cooked meals.

Anara Devi, who hails from Pratapgarh, said: "After the lockdown was announced, we don't have any income as there are no buyers." She also said that her family had not received any ration from the Delhi government but was dependent on food provided by some NGOs on the main road that connects Delhi with Meerut. She pointed out that she had seven family members, including a seven-month-old baby.

Anara Devi said their savings for the last one year were being used to buy ration during the lockdown. "Now, we are worried because the money is not going to last long," she said. She rued that they had no means to return to their villages as inter-state buses and trains were stopped. She said that the government should either arrange to send them back to their villages or arrange foods here.

The Delhi government has announced to provide food and ration to over one crore families in the national capital.

Source: Outlook India

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