SAMBALPUR: The demonetisation move has come to haunt the labour sardars as well as the labourers of Balangir, Nuapada, Bargarh and Kalahandi districts from where lakhs of people migrate to different parts of the country to earn their livelihood.
The labour sardars or hiring agents, who often pay the labourers in advance, have not received cash to offer as advance to the peasants and lure them to work in alien land.
According to reports, in absence of hard cash, migration has come to a grinding halt. Under normal circumstances, advance cash is paid to those willing to migrate and the families move out lock, stock and barrel after the agrarian festival of Nuakhai leaving behind the old with some cash to sustain themselves for the next nine to 10 months.
Unofficially, about three lakh people migrate from Khaprakhol, Turekela, Muribahal, Titilagarh and Loisingha blocks of Balangir; Koman, Sinapali, Boden and Nuapada blocks of Nuapada besides Gaiselet, Jharbandh, Padampur, Paikmal and Bijepur blocks of Bargarh district. Most of the migrants are employed in brick kilns where they are made to work under inhuman conditions.
The migrant labourers are employed in the brick kilns in units of three each, locally known as ‘pathuria’. Before leaving the village, each ‘pathuria’ is paid an advance between `30,000 and `35,000 and the cost involved for the journey is borne by the middlemen and labour sardars.
The payment made to the middlemen and labour sardars is based on the number of people they arrange and send. The middlemen and labour sardars admitted that they have not received any money from the kiln owners of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana this year due to demonetisation.
They said on condition of anonymity that demonetisation has hit the process of migration and their business has come down by 30 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year. “We feel things would improve after December when surplus cash would be available to facilitate the process,” they observed.