Updated: June 13, 2021 4:19:25 pm
Indicating that they have no intention of vacating the protest site anytime soon, farmers at Singhu border have erected shelters — sheds with metal frames and bamboo huts — fitted with air-coolers or air-conditioners (ACs) to tackle Delhi’s searing summer.
Even tractor trolleys, which have become a familiar fixture at the border area, have been fitted with air-coolers or ACs.
There are also RO water filters and water coolers, and most langars are now equipped with refrigerators. The menu at the langars, which serve hundreds every day, has changed too, with khichdi giving way to roti, and lassi being made available through the day.
Jasbeer Singh (38), a farmer from Fatehgarh Sahib, comes to the protest site “in rotation” like most others. He stays in a shed with an iron frame – the metal rods were brought from Punjab – which has an air-cooler and a refrigerator.
“The walls are made of green net which is used in nurseries. It protects us from mosquitoes and provides ventilation. We opted for a thatched roof as it keeps the place cool,” he said, adding that they draw electricity from nearby villages.
Jasbeer said he grows rice and wheat in his six-acre land, and will go home to tend to his fields in a few days. He said another batch of farmers from the district will replace him and others.
Aman Singh (25) from Firozpur has been at the site with his grandfather since the protest began in November-end last year. His father and brother take care of the work back home. Aman said his heart is in the fields, but “farming and protesting are equally important. If we don’t work, there will be nothing to eat today. But if we don’t protest, there will be nothing for tomorrow.”
About 50 people from his district have set up three structures fitted with air-coolers or air-conditioners – a bamboo shelter, a shelter with steel frames and a trolley around which they have built a wooden structure.
Aman said the trolley is the most comfortable as it cools the fastest. The roof of the other two structures, made with tarpaulin sheets, came off during Thursday night’s rain and squall.
On Friday afternoon, while most sought shelter from the heat in their respective sheds, Sonpal Singh (55) was overseeing the construction of a new shelter. He said the iron frames were sourced from Punjab, while some of the other materials were purchased from shops near the Singhu border.
While most “accommodations” have air-coolers or fans, farmers said the supply of electricity is erratic. Several appliances like RO water filters have been donated by well-wishers and organisations.
Some farmers said the protest has burnt a hole in their pockets. “My family has already spent around Rs 5 lakh since last year. It is becoming hotter and we will need better shelters with ACs. We will be spending another Rs 4 lakh,” said a Punjab-based farmer. He added that the elderly protesters “deserve the comfort”.
Despite the new challenges, most of the protesters reiterated that they would not leave until the farm laws are repealed. Police estimate that there are 10,000-15,000 protesters at the Singhu border at present.
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