Mumbai dabbawalas, who have grabbed the world’s attention for their low-tech, high-efficiency lunch box delivery service, will now be able to avail a general insurance policy that will cover risks associated with their work.
Abhishek Ekal, vice-president of the Dabbawala Foundation, told DNA on Friday that this facility is being extended to them by SBI Life for the first time. He was in Hubli on an invitation from the KLES Institute of Management Studies and Research to address MBA students.
Dabbawalas cover long distances daily, collecting freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from homes of officegoers and delivering the boxes to them at their offices, using various modes of transport. The absence of medical cover or insurance is one of the major long-pending issues that has now been addressed.
“As we run to meet the time-table, ignoring the safety of life and neglecting our families in a crowded city like Mumbai, the chance of an accident is always there,” Ekal said. “Considering this situation, SBI Life has come forward to provide general insurance of Rs4 lakh, for which each of us will have to pay a premium of Rs100 per annum. Registrations began on November 30.
An estimated 5,000 dabbawalas move nearly 2 lakh lunch boxes daily with utmost puncutuality and that too for a nominal fee. They earn as little as between Rs3,000 and Rs4,000 a month, on an average.
Dabbawalas also have no post-retirement benefits. “As there is no age limit for us, we are earn as long as we work and when we are unable to work due to old age we have no other means of survial,” Ekal said. He is a qualified electrical engineer, but has devoted his time to the welfare of dabbawalas.
Ekal said the foundation is also helping to open bank accounts, and documentation like voter identity cards and Aadhar registration, that many of them do not possess as they are migrants from rural Maharashtra.
“The children of our workers also find it difficult to pursue higher education and we are trying to provide all possible assistance for this also,” he said.