You can shop here for bangles,belts...

LIVELIHOOD WOES

The Delhi government launched mobile STD/PCO booths in 2004 for the physically challenged to help make them self-reliant.

No calls : Ramu Soni with his STD/PCO booth.

But with call rates getting cheaper than the landline, this scheme soon went kaput. Metrolife peeps into the lives of those still running these booths.

Affected by polio, Krishna Murari Ojha got a mobile STD/PCO booth in 2007.

He recalls that initially the earning was sufficient but as time passed by, few people came to make calls. “Initially the income was good, but gradually the number of people coming to make calls started declining.

It was then that I thought of selling items like belts, earrings and other accessories,” says Krishna, whose booth is stationed at Connaught Place. On an average, he earns anywhere between Rs 9,000 and Rs 10,000 every month.

Tricycles fitted with mobile STD/PCO could be procured by those with 40 per cent handicap.
These booths with two connections can be stationed at places where public telephone facility is not available. But, now they have turned into mobile shops, selling accessories like belts, earrings, bangles, cigarettes and gutka.

The idea of turning these booths into small shops with a little investment spread fast among their owners.

Just like Krishna, Ramu Soni too got his moveable STD/PCO booth in 2007 owing to the problem of polio since childhood. Within two years, he started selling accessories. “By 2009, very few people came to make calls. Then I decided to keep cigarette and other tobacco products which increased my income substantially. At present, a day’s earning can go up to Rs 3,000,” says Ramu who hails from Madhya Pradesh and lives with his brother Deepu Soni at Paharganj. His booth is stationed close to Palika Bazaar.

At Kishan Lal’s mobile PCO, one can hardly see a telephone as it is completely covered with bangles. He has been running the PCO for the last six years and just like other mobile PCO owners, Kishan turned his booth into a little shop to earn extra bucks.

“I got this booth in 2006, but the income from it was not adequate. After two years, I started using my booth to sell bangles,” he shares.

“People hardly make calls from here now. Sometimes I earn Rs 50, sometimes even less than that. It is not at all profitable as call rates have become cheaper,” says Ajay Mishra, who lost his one leg in an accident in 2004 and received the mobile STD/PCO booth the same year.

Ajay says that he has applied to Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for a shop but to no avail. “I got the booth free of cost, but now I will have to pay to get a shop,” he says.

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