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Migrant labourers go without food

Dullan Mahto is a labourer from Bihar's Nawada district who used to earn Rs 300 a day, spending half of it on food. Since the demonetisation five days back, he is virtually starving.

His hands folded, the frail 59-year-old man, whose home is a pavement near the Dr Hedgewar Hospital in East Delhi, despairs that he is now getting no work. "We used to earn around Rs 300 a day. But we haven't got any work for three days. We are forced to go hungry," Mahto said, referring to the severe cash crunch in the city since the government spiked 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8.

Mahto is not the only one suffering. It has been found that many labourers, who have come to the national Capital to earn a livelihood, have been hit much more hard than even the lower middle class. A few said they have no option but to starve or go back to their villages.

According to them, the contractors who used to hire them have said that they cannot give them work as they were out of cash. The contractors are saddled with the spiked currency or finding it difficult to get enough 100 rupee notes. "I have been hungry for two days as we are not getting any work," moaned Rambhagatji, a labourer from Etawah in UP.

"Earlier, once in a day or two, some people used to come and offer us food. But this has stopped," he said, adding: "The government is meant to be for the poor but we are suffering."

Mahto asked pointedly: “Is this our 'acche din' (good days) that (PM Narendra) Modi had promised? Did we vote him to go hungry? 

Do we poor have a right to live or not?"

Since the demonetisation was announced to check black money and corruption, hundreds of thousands of people across the country have waited in serpentine queues for hours outside banks and ATMs to either withdraw cash or deposit or exchange their now worthless currency. 
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