Veeresh and Gangamma are natives of Malapally near Mantralayam mandal of Kunrool district, about 400 kilometers from here, who migrated to this village about two weeks back to pluck cotton balls. As the parents move regularly in search of work, their 13-year-old son Srinivas had to forgo education. He has never gone to school and probably may never attend school in future as well.
Sadashivapet is one of the mandals in the district where cotton crop was grown in thousands of acres and to pluck cotton balls workers are being engaged from outside the State every year and this year as well. More than 80 such families have taken shelter in temporary huts erected in an open area on the outskirts. These huts are covered with black tarpaulin sheets. For every three houses there is a bulb outside which is the source of lighting for them during the night. Thethreat of being bitten by snakes looms large, but life has to go on.
For them, the day starts at 3 a.m. After getting up and attending nature's call in the adjacent open places, they prepare food for the day. Packing them in boxes, the workers take the food to their work place, the cotton fields.
The day starts for us at 3 a.m. We have to be ready, make our children wake up and get them ready, prepare food and go to field before 6 a.m. After working for three hours or so have breakfast and then continue work till afternoon. There will be rest for an hour or so after lunch and work continues till late in the evening. Dinner will be at about 8 p.m. It will be jowar roti with some curry or pickle, said Venkata Lakshmi, another woman from Kurnool district while preparing roti on Saturday night. They are preparing food from the firewood available in the neighbourhood.
In the past they used to pluck about 70 kgs of cotton and now it has come down to half the quantity. We are able to pluck only 30 or 35 kgs after toiling for so many hours as the cotton is not good, said Gangamma, another migrant.
Learning of the plight of migrant children, District Cooperative Marketing Society (DCMS) Chairman M. Shivakumar gave away blankets to them.