January 30, 2011

World Cup 2011

All pay, no work for Chittagong's beggars

Abhishek Purohit

It is not in the league of the ‘cleansing’ that Beijing undertook before the 2008 Olympics, but the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh has announced its own sprucing-up plans ahead of the World Cup. Manzur Alam, the Chittagong mayor, wants hundreds of beggars to be kept off the city’s streets during the tournament. But that would mean a temporary loss of ‘livelihood’ for the beggars, and Alam plans to compensate around 300 of them with a daily ‘wage’ of 150 taka (about two dollars).

“Bangladesh is a host of the prestigious event. A lot of tourists will be here, and they don't like to see beggars," Alam told AFP. The mayor plans to meet the beggars' representatives to discuss the payments and other benefits such as free food and clothes. "We want to treat the issue as humanely as possible. Many of these beggars are disabled and many have families and their children are studying in schools and colleges. So obviously, they must be compensated well."

According to a 2005 study, Bangladesh has about 700,000 beggars, with those in urban areas earning an average of 100 taka a day from donations. The South Asian nation is hosting the World Cup for the first time, with Chittagong getting two matches while six will be played in the capital Dhaka. Guess who could be watching the games on a paid leave.

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Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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