Drought cloud over Nuakhai in Odisha
SAMBALPUR: Drought scare looms over the celebration of mass agrarian festival Nuakhai slated to be observed on August 26. With drought stalking districts of Nuapada, Balangir, Kalahandi and rain-fed areas of Bargarh, the peasants and marginal farmers have been robbed of their purchasing power.
On the other hand, the situation has come in handy for labour sardars who are on the prowl offering advance to lure gullible landless and poor peasants to migrate to alien lands promising greener pasture.
With no money in hand and aware of the impending drought, the landless and poor have been caught between poverty and tradition. While the helpless peasants need money to celebrate Nuakhai, they also have to sustain their families.
Caught in this dilemma, they land in the trap of labour sardars who offer them advance money for Nuakhai celebration and traffic them mostly to brick kilns where they are forced to work in inhuman condition.
With rains failing farmers in the districts of Nuapada, Balangir, parts of Kalahandi besides Padampur sub-division in Bargarh, it is said that the sardars will have a flourishing trade this year. With successive crop loss and debt burden haunting the farmers, the labour sardars are looking forward to traffic more people trapped in poverty and debt.
While Nuapada Labour Officer Mukta Lal Naik could not be reached, the lone clerk in his office said no labour contractor has applied for licence as yet in the district.
Similarly, Assistant Labour Commissioner, Balangir Saroj Ranjit said fresh registration of labour contractors has not yet begun. Registration will start after Nuakhai, Ranjit added.