AHEAD OF VIDHAN Sabha session, which will get underway from March 20, farmer labour unions have started day-night dharnas outside DC offices across the state. They are demanding debt waiver and NREGA work as per the act. The dharnas were held outside SDM’s office in Lehragaga in Sangrur and outside DC offices in Muktsar, Bathinda, Faridkot, Moga, Mansa among others. Armed with ration to cook food on the spot, men and women in large numbers gathered outside the DC offices, while in come cases village panchayats were sending cooked food at the dharna site. Sharing details about reason for debt waiver Lachhman Sewewala, general secretary of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) said,”In October, PKMU did a survey of Khet Mazdoor families and as per the data of Punjab government. It was found that there are 7.5 lakh Khet Mazdoor families in Punjab and each labourer’s family is under a debt of Rs 91,000.”
The report was released in October 2017, but on Monday, the labourers again demanded debt waiver giving reference of the survey. The centre for research in rural and industrial development, Chandigarh, had also organised discussion on the PKMU report in October.
Sewewala said, “As per the report, 85% of the agricultural labourers in Punjab are under debt and hence they should be looked after first of all. However, CM Capt Amarinder Singh just made a one line mention about farm labourers in his speech in Mansa during the first function on farm debt waiver in January, but no policy has been made till now. We will continue our dharnas till March 21 and later chalk out what action will be taken after the wheat harvesting season.”
The protesting workers also demanded work as per NREGA which is minimum 100 days. They said that 100 days norms were not being adhered to in any village of Punjab and rather they demanded it to be increased to 250 days in a year. The labourers whose consumption of power bills is 3,000 units or more annually will now have to pay the power bills, PKMU demanded this decision to be taken back.