A pandemic plunges Kollidam’s launderers into crisis
Beaten by the COVID-19 pandemic for two years, the launderers who make a living on the banks of the Kollidam River are slowly coming to terms with the predicament they find themselves in.
Many in fact give up their vocation to earn their living elsewhere. For P. Kannan and his family who lived on the banks of the Kollidam, near the old bridge, the crisis caused a financial crisis.
“Our previous generation washed clothes and dried them along the shore, and we grew up learning the trade. However, staying in the vocation now is a huge question mark, ”says Kannan.
While at least 300 families lived in the washer settlements, there are now fewer than 100 left. A washer charges 10 yen per piece of cloth and will be able to wash about 100 clothes per day. But, they have to invest more than half of the money they earn in purchasing various products that they need to wash, starch and iron clothes.
“We use more than 10 different products, including bleach powder, soap powder and soap oil, fabric whiteners for washing, starch and also charcoal for the cans. iron, ”Kannan explains.
Without any orders from the hotels and private hospitals that provided them with much of the work, they are unable to make ends meet.
“Many do not give us clothes to wash due to the lack of activity as the number of visitors has apparently declined for fear of contracting the viral infection,” said Kannan’s mother, who is also involved with the business.
Washers also complain that contaminated water is dumped into the river, due to which they contract infections. “I had a skin infection on both of my legs. I must have spent almost 1,000 on hospital bills. But I have to continue to feed my family and I have to go back to work, ”says Kannan. The government, too, has paid no attention to their plight.
The launderers complain that they have not received any solatium from the government for the losses suffered.