MANGALURU/KOLAR/KALABURAGI:Bhimsha Chitali is a NREGS worker from Kudalahangara village in Kalaburagi. He is entitled to a wage of Rs 234 a day but gets only Rs 200. The wages are credited once a week.
With temperature in the city touching 44 degrees C, he is having to buy four litres of packaged water every day. That leaves him with barely Rs 120.
“What do we do? Water is more important than food,” he says. Bhimsha’s work officer did arrange a water tanker at the work site. But the water was so dirty, 156 labourers fell ill last week.
Siddappa, a construction worker in Mangaluru, says, “My wife and I need 4 litres of water per day. We have no alternative but to buy it. It costs us Rs 12 per litre.”
Sales of packaged drinking water in shops near construction sites have been brisk.
Suresh, a contractor of the Mangaluru City Corporation, says, “We usually stock drinking water at our work sites with help from nearby homes. But this year water is in short supply, so we are constrained to get our workers packaged water for drinking.”
It’s a similar story in Kolar and Chikkaballapur. Every town in this district has five to eight water ‘purifying’ units owned by private operators.
Daily Earnings: Rs 210 spend on Water: Rs 40
Bhubaneswar: Sridhar Sahoo, a construction worker, makes Rs 210 a day but spends Rs 40 on water. That holds true for most working class people in Odisha. Needless to say, makers of water sachets are hearing their cash registers ring. Illegal operators too have surfaced.