Once flourishing, beedi rolling goes up in smoke

BALASORE/BARIPADA: Engaged in a hazardous occupation, they cannot even think of a secure future as the Government benefits elude them. They are the beedi rollers, whose work is tedious, yet fa

Published: 09th January 2012 03:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:11 PM   |  A+A-

BALASORE/BARIPADA: Engaged in a hazardous occupation, they cannot even think of a secure future as the Government benefits elude them. They are the beedi rollers, whose work is tedious, yet face the fear of not earning enough to get bread and butter.

 Once a flourishing cottage industry, beedi manufacturing has now failed to provide the rollers in northern parts of the State with a livelihood.

Radha, a village in Mayurbhanj district, once had 250 families engaged in the profession, despite the health hazards attached to it. The families which earned a decent living have now switched profession to earn enough for at least a square meal. No financial support from their employers and medical care, the workers felt exploited and decided to change vocation.

A couple of decades back, the beedis manufactured by Radha villagers were in high demand in the markets of Bhadrak, Keonjhar, Jajpur, Sundargarh and neighbouring states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar.

 The picture is no better in villages of Pathana Mohalla, Kaji Mohalla, Khapranali under Soro NAC in Balasore district where the beedi workers are living at the mercy of middlemen.

Drastic fall in employment opportunities and non-revision of wages have forced many beedi workers to leave the job. Rajendra Mahalik, a manufacturer, said, earlier all seven members of his family were engaged in rolling beedis but now they are unable to continue it due to high interest rates of micro finance and moneylenders.

 “We are deprived of basic rights and leading a miserable life. Though we have been working hard for a good living, it is still a distant dream as any government agency hardly supports us,” alleged another manufacturer Dibakar Singh.

 Though the minimum wage of a labourer is `90 a day, the employers end up paying only ` 30 for 48 hours of labour. While many workers suffer from TB and other respiratory diseases, there are no medical facilities, alleged Jasina Bibi, a beedi worker of Pathan Mohalla.

 A number of un-registered beedi manufacturing units have been supplying beedi to Khaira, Khrasahapur, Dagarpada, Gopalpur, Nilagiri and Bhadrak including Soro and Balasore.

 The beedi rollers are bereft of the facilities despite the fact that the Labour Welfare Organisation, in 1996, had identified 300 families in Radha and its adjoining villages to provide financial support and social security like health insurance, maternity benefits, Provident Fund, scholarships for children and housing assistance. The beedi rollers have threatened to stage an agitation if benefits did not reach them.

Stay up to date on all the latest Odisha news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp