The Mumbai Dabbawalas association has approached the State Human Rights Commission with the demand that they should be provided with medical and financial aid amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has severely affected the lives and livelihoods. As dabbawalas struggle to make ends meet, the association asked for basic necessities like clothing, food and shelter to keep them afloat till they get back on their feet following the lockdown. The hearing of the case has been scheduled with the human rights commission for September 17.
Earlier the Mumbai dabbawalas association had sought aid from the state government as the stoppage of Mumbai locals amid the COVID-19 lockdown rendered them helpless with no way to earn a livelihood. The dabbawalas reached out to the state cabinet demanding financial assistance similar to the one provided to the labourers. The president of the Mumbai Dabbawala Association said that due to the financial support provided by social organisation and associations about the dabbawalas received some aid but it wasn't nearly enough as there are 4,500 to 5,000 tiffin service providers in the city to deliver 2 lakh tiffins.
"We have been demanding financial assistance of Rs 5,000 per dabbawala from the state government, similar to what the construction workers had received," said Subhash Talekar.
The dabbawalas of Mumbai requested the state government to permit them to travel in the local trains which in turn will allow them to resume their work and earn in full capacity. Currently, only the dabbawalas who have cycles are able to deliver meals as requested. Local trains will make it easy for the ones who don't own cycles to resume work and run their homes amid COVID-19. The local trains are currently operating only for the essential workers in a restricted manner.
"Dabbawalas are also part of essential services are they deliver food to Mumbaikars. And since most officers are now functioning with reduced capacity, people have been asking us to deliver their meals. Never before in the 130-year-old history of the tiffin services, has there been a six-month break. We ensure that office-goers get their meals on time and take the empty lunch boxes back to their homes," said Subhash Talekar, Mumbai Dabbawalas Association President.
(With inputs from PTI)