Free phones, high wages fail to lure Bihar’s flood hit to Punjab

October 4th, 2008 - 12:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Supaul (Bihar), Oct 4 (IANS) In a bid to lure poor labourers from flood-hit Bihar to work on their fields, rich farmers of Punjab are offering free cell phones and other attractive incentives. But the offer has few takers.Farm labourers in Bihar’s flood- hit districts of Madhepura, Supaul, Saharsa, Araria and Purnea are starved of work, while farmers in Punjab have been facing a labour shortage for months. Hence the incentives.

“It is true. Farm labourers are being offered free cell phones and high wages this time to work in Punjab,” said Ramlakhan Sada, a Dalit farm labourer.

Sada, along with several others in Saharsa, was offered the incentives, but he refused. “We cannot go to Punjab leaving the family back in distress after the flood devastated everything and we have been living in a relief camp,” Sada said.

Another farm labourer, Manohar Sahni, said: “The offer was attractive, but we cannot migrate to Punjab till our family is fully rehabilitated in the village. We are flood victims, the state and central governments are taking care of us, providing food in relief camps to survive . There is no question of going to Punjab, risking our families back home in flood-affected areas.”

Sanohar Yadav of Supaul district and his younger brother first accepted the job offers, but changed their minds later. “I was eager to go but fear of safety and survival of my family forced me not to go to Punjab despite the high wages,” he said.

NGO activist Ranjeev, working in flood-affected areas, said that most of the people living in relief camps or other temporary shelters are in no mood to migrate, leaving their families behind, till the situation returned to normal. “There will be slow migration once the Dussehra and Diwali fstival seasons are over,” he predicted.

Reports reaching here indicate that the labour shortage in Punjab farms is so acute that the farmers are camping at Ludhiana railway station, eager to hire labourers as soon as they get off the train. Their problem has been compounded because the farm labourers are often getting higher wages in factiories and construction sites.

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