Punjab farms face shortage of labour

Migrant workers head home for polls

The farm as well as industrial sectors in Punjab have started facing labour problems with migrant labours returning to their native places in UP and Bihar for the Lok Sabha polls.

Wheat growers are wary that labour shortage at this critical stage when wheat crop is almost matured will affect harvesting operations as most of the labour comes from other states, including UP and Bihar.

Similarly, the industrial sector mainly concentrated in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar is also complaining of unavailability of labour, forcing the industry to cut down manufacturing activity.

“Due to elections, farmers, especially wheat growers in Punjab, are facing severe shortage of workers as migrant labourers have returned to their native places in UP and Bihar,” Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said Monday.“Now, it will impact harvesting operations in the state, which heavily depends on migrant labour for wheat harvesting,” he said.

Labour shortage will not only hit harvesting operations, but it will also impact lifting, loading and unloading of crop. Farmers said they were offering “handsome” raise in daily wages in order make them ready for harvesting the crop, which would cause increase in their input cost.

“Labourers told us that they will return soon and but now they say will come back after elections,” said Devender Singh, a farmer in Samrala.

Punjab is eyeing wheat procurement of 115 lakh tonne with wheat arrivals expecting to pick up from April 20. UP and Bihar will go to the polls for 70 seats and 34 seats respectively on April 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12. 

Polling for 10 and six seats in UP and Bihar has already taken place on April 10. The Punjab industry has also complained of non-availability of labour affecting their production schedules. 

“We are also facing labour shortage as our labourers have gone to their places for polling their votes,” said S C Ralhan, a Ludhiana based hand tool maker. “We are forced to cut down production due to labour pangs,” he added.

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