Hyderabad: The lockdown, from how it was when first imposed in March, might be over. But the IT corridor of Hyderabad, which is usually buzzing with activity, has been sporting a near deserted look since then, with a majority of the IT workforce continuing with the work from home (WFH) mode.
This has had a cascading effect on scores of businesses that were directly and indirectly dependent on them, including the hostel industry which with scarce to nil guest occupancy is now facing tough times in the IT corridor.
There are an estimated 3,500 hostels and guest houses in this belt located in and around HITEC City, Gachibowli, Madhapur and Kondapur. Describing themselves as an allied sector of IT, hostel managements say they provide employment to over 60,000 families working as cooks, housekeeping staff, helpers, watchmen, transport operators and drivers.
According to the IT Corridor Hostels Association, a central committee which brings all hostels in this locality under one platform, as many as four lakh IT employees were staying in these hostels. However, these hostels are now almost empty since the lockdown in March.
Amarnath Reddy, president of IT Corridor Hostels Association, said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the hostel business was facing multiple challenges like paying rents to buildings, salaries to employees and maintenance, and was literally struggling to survive now.
“We never expected that the hostel industry, which remained undeterred during different phases, would face a zero business prospect,” Reddy said.
Hostels were operational through the lockdown and the unlock phases with little or no earnings, were optimistic of the business picking up by Dasara. “We thought the worst of the pandemic would be over and that the IT staff would be back to their campuses. However, there is no improvement and our struggle to remain operational continues,” he said.
With their business and earnings slipping from bad to worse, hostel owners are now waiting for the IT companies to recall their staff and personnel to operate from the base. If this doesn’t happen, they fear, many hostel owners will be forced to shut their operations.
“Unless employees return to IT corridor, we will continue to suffer. Hostel owners are paying rents for buildings for the last eight months from their own pockets. The situation has gone out of hand as we are not in a position to pay even the rentals now,” said T Karunakar, general secretary for the association.
Sanjay Chowdhary, who runs Nest Co-living Places in Madhapur, described the hostel business in IT corridor as an industry worth Rs 100 crore, which not only provides accommodation to employees of IT and allied sectors, but also ensures employment to scores of others.
“There are several hostels where a guest can pay Rs 300 for staying a day and have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nowhere in the country are such hostels providing this kind of affordable accommodation near IT parks,” he said.
Requests to support hostel industry
The Association has requested that hostel businesses be recognised as a small scale industry. “Our nature of business is renting for residential purposes. So we request for electricity and water supplies to be charged under the residential category,” association members said.
Also, a request was made that GHMC trade licenses be charged on office space alone and not on the total area or entire building area. The association has appealed to the government for a meeting with the IT industry to sort out the issue.
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