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Punjab labourers up in arms as panchayats fix paddy transplantation rates across villages

The panchayat has also ordered that migrants, who come to villages for paddy transplantation work, will also not be allowed to work for any other village till the time work of one village is not completed.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: June 13, 2021 12:59:59 am
Punjab labourers up in arms as panchayats fix paddy transplantation rates across villagesIn Ludhiana, Akhara gram panchayat had passed a resolution on Friday to give Rs 3,300 per acre as charges of paddy transplantation to labour working in the fields. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Farm labourers are angry over diktats being passed by several panchayats across Punjab to fix paddy transplantation rates and fines for farmers not adhering to the resolutions.

In Ludhiana, Akhara gram panchayat had passed a resolution on Friday to give Rs 3,300 per acre as charges of paddy transplantation to labour working in the fields. The resolution said that if anyone will object to this decision, that farmer will be fined Rs 50,000 and in addition to this, the person will be boycotted by the gram panchayat. Not only this, according to the resolution, the farmer who will give more than Rs 3,300 per acre will also be publicly insulted by the panchayat, his works will not be considered by the panchayat.

The panchayat has also ordered that migrants, who come to villages for transplantation work, will also not be allowed to work for any other village till the time work of one village is not completed. And if decree is violated, the entire group of workers will not be allowed to stay in the village.

On Saturday, labourers held a protest in Akhara against this resolution. But Akahra is not alone.

In Raikot, Kalsan village panchayat too has passed a resolution in which Rs 3,200 per acre was decided as the rate for paddy transplantation along with ration for the entire group of workers and Rs 3,500 excluding ration.

“Last year, in the name of Covid, we suffered a lot and we had to pay up to Rs 5,000-5,500 per acre as charges for transplantation. We have already suffered from Covid, hence this year we have decided to fix charges,” announced a villager in a video message. The village in the video clip called himself as member of panchayat.

In village Kapial, district Sangrur, Dalit community of village, who are mostly farm labourers, staged a dharna on Saturday against landlords. Bikkar Singh, a villager, said, “Landlords were planning to fix rate of paddy transplantation at Rs 2,500-2,600 and when one guardians of governance (GoG), who belongs to Dalit community objected to it, landlords raised demand of removing him as village’s GoG. He publicly apologised too, though his opinion was not wrong, but still a boycott call was given from village gurdwara against him. So, objecting against this boycott, we lodged a protest outside the police station.”

Speaking on the protest, DSP S S Singh said, “This matter will be resolved by tomorrow. Today, a dharna was organised by Dalits as they wanted no police case on GoG of village Kapial. However, that particular GoG’s case will be decided district level GoG. There are charges against him of saying something objectionable about farmer unions on social media.”

Gurmukh Singh, member of Zamin Prapti Sangrash Committee, a body which fights for the rights of Dalits, said, “Farmer unions are being blamed by many in fixation of rates of paddy transplantation in villages. However, I appeal to the farm labourers to question sarpanchs of the villages who have a political affiliation.”

Gurmeet Singh Rangreta, from Punjab Labour Party and a resident of Lambi area, said, “Many labourers objected to resolutions in Ludhiana villages and in many other parts of Punjab as well. We will also be organising a protest soon. Already labourers have lodged their protest in writing as well. I have even complained to DSP of Jagraon and Raikot – both constituencies in district Ludhiana. They can fix a rate for transplantation but diktats like fine and boycott are not justified. Panchayats cannot pass such orders and the government is sleeping.”

He added, “Resolutions are being passed by many other village panchayats in Tarn Taran, Fatehgarh Sahib etc. one after another. Last year, the rate was ranging from Rs 4,000- 5,500 and now it has crashed to 2500- 3500. Moreover, migrant labour is being preferred over local labour as this year workers have come in large numbers from UP and Bihar, hence exploitation of local labour is happening.”

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