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Women in Gandhi Nagar’s Garment Market Hit by MCD’s Sealing Drive

Women who worked as helpers in jeans’ manufacturing units in Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar demand an alternative.

Updated
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4 min read

Video Editor: Varun Sharma & Sandeep Suman

Camera: Akanksha Kumar

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Asha, 30, has been unemployed for the last six months. She rues, “There is no work, slowdown is there,” as she perches on a wooden stool in Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar. She sits next to three women, busy straightening newly stitched jeans and checking for errant threads and buttons.

Asha’s job was to help package newly made garments at a manufacturing unit, and used to earn her Rs 7,000 per month. Now, she waits for an opportunity as others around her work.

However, Asha is not alone – many women in this east Delhi constituency have been struggling to get work since the local factories were shut during an MCD-conducted sealing drive.

Asha used to earn Rs 7,000 per month.
Asha used to earn Rs 7,000 per month.
(Photo: Akanksha Kumar/ The Quint)

Double Whammy of Sealing & Slowdown

“Sealing is happening here and that’s why some factories have moved to the Tronica City (Ghaziabad).”
Asha, Homemaker

In Gandhi Nagar, considered to be Asia’s largest ready-made garment market, hundreds of women were employed as helpers, their role being scanning the length of jeans and shred the extra threads which dangled around motifs and near the stitches left behind by the machine.

27-year-old Sapna Verma, another resident of Gandhi Nagar, had migrated to Delhi from Kanpur with her husband in 2016. She too, has been looking for a job for the last few months.

“Rs 3000-4000 was sufficient for us as my husband has a job as well. Rs 4,500 is the rent for our room, so, when I used to work earlier this was manageable. The entire market is witnessing a slowdown, so there is hardly any work.”
Sapna Verma, Former Helper

Sapna’s husband continues to work at another factory in the same locality, where he gets a monthly salary of Rs 10,000.

She is reluctant to go to Sonia Vihar where some factories were shifted after the sealing drive as the daily bus fare of Rs 30 (Rs 15 per side) will mean an additional monthly expenditure of Rs 900.

“As long as factories were in our neighbourhood, it was still manageable. Can’t go to a distant location as it’s not safe,” she says.

Sapna had migrated from Kanpur with her husband to Gandhi Nagar in 2016.
Sapna had migrated from Kanpur with her husband to Gandhi Nagar in 2016.
(Photo: Akanksha Kumar/ The Quint)
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‘Situation Wasn’t That Bad Earlier’

Bhola, a tailor, and his wife, Sanju Devi, moved from Bihar’s Bhagalpur district to Delhi almost 15 years ago.

The couple recently had a baby girl and are concerned with the sudden dip in their monthly earnings.

“Earlier, the situation wasn’t that bad. In the last two to two-and-a-half months while I used to get work worth Rs 500, it has come down to Rs 200, Rs 150, Rs 100, which are my daily earnings.”
Bhola, Tailor
As a tailor, Bhola’s daily earnings have dropped from Rs 500 to Rs 100 in the last two-and-half months.
As a tailor, Bhola’s daily earnings have dropped from Rs 500 to Rs 100 in the last two-and-half months.
(Photo: Akanksha Kumar/ The Quint)

Anger Palpable Among Local Traders

34-year-old Mala has been out of job for last three years, ever since the factory she used to work at was re-located to Sonia Vihar.

Hailing from Jharkhand, Mala belongs to the Kumhar caste and had come to Delhi almost 10 years ago. “There is no source of livelihood in our native towns. ‘Mitti se banate hain, wahi khate hain (We use earthen utensils, that’s how we sustain ourselves).

A monthly salary of Rs 6,000 would take care of some of her expenses.

“With great difficulty we are raising our kids. On top of that, I’m not keeping well these days.”
Mala
Women in Gandhi Nagar’s Garment Market Hit by MCD’s Sealing Drive
(Photo: Akanksha Kumar/ The Quint)

Anger and helplessness because of the sealing drive are palpable not just among men and women who used to earn two meals a day as labourers and helpers, but also among the local trading community.

“Every day, these guys come with papers in the name of sealing. We are following the law have nine people working for us and consume less than 11 KiloWatt power. Yet, they don’t let us work.”
Sushil Jain, Businessman

Some like Sunita, whose husband used to be a loyalist of the Congress candidate Arvinder Singh Lovely, want to give AAP another chance. “We want to try Aam Aadmi Party this time,” she says.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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