Thuamul Rampur block of Kalahandi district in Odisha is situated 72 km away from the district headquarters, Bhawanipatna. Before the lockdown, there were buses plying between Thuamul Rampur and Bhawanipatna, but because many villages in the block are very remote, some residents did not have access to the bus service.
To solve this problem, some people purchased auto rickshaws, bikes, and minivans to ferry residents of the block to and from the district headquarters. This was mostly done by people who had migrated from Thuamul Rampur to South India or other places—looking for better livelihoods—and had returned.
This opened up further opportunities for the community. For instance, Pinku owns a garage at Thuamul Rampur that specialises in tyre repair work. With the increase in vehicles in the region, he was doing well, earning INR 20,000-25,000 every month in revenue from his garage. But ever since the lockdown came into effect, he has locked up the garage and sits at home, waiting for a work call.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed have affected the rural economy in more than one way.
Aravind AR is a management trainee at Gram Vikas.