The Wadars are traditional stoneworkers with an expertise in stone cutting, monument repairing, and stone engraving. In the late 1990s there were almost 50 stoneworkers (ones dealing with huge stones only in Gargoti), but now only 15 of them are into this occupation. The Wadars of Gargoti talk about their plight and heart-wrenching stories.
July 09, 2017 | Sanket Jain
Suresh Shankar Wadar, 35, is a stoneworker for almost 17 years now. “We are the last generation of the traditional ‘caste’ based Wadars,” says Suresh pointing towards a group of almost seven workers. The Wadars are traditional stoneworkers with an expertise in stone cutting, monument repairing, and stone engraving.
The Wadars in Gargoti work for eight hours daily and earn an average daily wage of Rs 300. However, the pay depends primarily on the type of stone.
In the late 1990s there were almost 50 stone workers (ones dealing with huge stones only in Gargoti), but now only 15 of them are into this occupation. Most of the workers say that it was both societal and economic factors which made them undertake this occupation.
“Whenever a contractor gets an order, he calls us, and we figure out the land from which stone can be used. Here, the workers have to seek permission from the landowner. Sometimes, if the owners are kind, they don’t charge as their land is cleared of huge stones. In most of the cases, workers collectively pay an amount to the landowner. Every worker has been paying Rs 1000 weekly for this project,” says Suresh.
In this unorganized sector, a lot of issues pile up before workers. A legal permit is required before the truck can transport the stones. A truck can accommodate 100 stones in a trip and Rs 400 is the permit cost for the same. Arduous work compiled with no health security adds to the plight of workers.
Photos: Sanket Jain