Paddy date fixed, Punjab farmers line up for labour at rly stations
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With the Punjab government fixing June 10 as the date to commence transplanting of paddy, harried farmers are spending nights at the state's main railway junctions like Rajpura and Ludhiana to woo migrant labour coming on trains from Bihar.
"We have no other option... Earlier this process (the transplanting of paddy) was staggered so the availability of labour was also quite flexible. Now all the farmers want labour at the same time, which makes this shortage hugely acute. Then many of these labourers say they can now get equally renumerative work back in their native state, which lessens the charm of coming to Punjab," says Amrik Singh, who has been camping in at small hotel just outside the Ludhiana station for four days now, along with Jasbir and Satbir Singh.
With folded hands, Jasbir Singh crouches next to a sleepy migrant. The sarpanch of village Badwala in Tarn Taran is using all his charm to get this group of young men to work in his fields. "Chal na yaar, tumhari bahut zaroorat hai (Please come, you are badly needed)," pleads Jasbir. The migrant youth who have landed in the wee morning hours are not interested.
The state government has fixed the date for the paddy transplantation to approximately coincide with the arrival of monsoon. As a lot of water is needed for the exercise, the water table gets depleted if farmers start too early.
The routine of the Punjab farmers is fixed. "The trains that come from Bihar reach Ludhiana either very late in the night or very early in the morning. So we come here at about two in the night and stay till seven in the morning," says Satbir.
One of the most sought after trains at Rajpura, the first railway junction in Punjab for trains coming from the east, is the Jansewa Express. It reaches Rajpura at about 1.30 pm.
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