Bengal workers toil in Thanjavur’s fields as local hands give them pass

Besides low cost labour, the unavailability of local hands is cited as reason for engaging more migrant workers in the farmlands in the region.

Published: 27th October 2022 05:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th October 2022 05:48 AM   |  A+A-

Migrant labourers working in a paddy field in the delta region | Express

Express News Service

THANJAVUR: The Cauvery delta region, while like other districts has been witnessing an influx of migrant workers from other states over the past several years, labour union leaders point to a growing trend of the former particularly being employed for agricultural work. Besides low cost labour, the unavailability of local hands is cited as reason for engaging more migrant workers in the farmlands in the region.

While workers from other states, particularly from north India, were already toiling away in construction sites and restaurants in the delta region, agricultural work, including sowing, plucking of nurseries and transplanting of paddy cultivated over lakhs of acres in these districts, used to be undertaken only by local hands.

However, over the past two years, migrant workers are being employed for agricultural work also, with this year witnessing a significant increase in their number, say union leaders. Most such farm workers are from West Bengal, point out farmers.

A Nambirajan, a farmer from Melamaganam at Ammapettai block in Thanjavur who engaged workers from West Bengal for plucking and transplanting nursery over 32 acres of farmland recently told TNIE that it would cost him around Rs 6,000 per acre to have the work done with local hands. It cost only Rs 4,500 per acre to undertake it with the workers from West Bengal, he added.

“Moreover they start work around 5 am and complete it over an expanse of four acres per day,” he said. A group consists of around 15 workers, he pointed out. “They were not demanding tea during work as the local workers usually do. I, however, provided them with it,” he said, adding five kg of rice is supplied to the group every day. Further, local workers who are above 50 only are ready to work and their numbers are less, Nambirajan said. Also, unlike local workers, both men and women engage in plucking and transplanting nurseries, he stressed. 

C Packirisamy, the district secretary of All India Agriculture Workers Union (AIAWU), said there would be around 3,000 workers from West Bengal employed in the delta region. Packirisamy who knows Hindi pointed out that the workers he met in Ammapettai block hail from North 24 Parganas district.

“Those workers attribute less availability of work, and low wages, for coming to work here,” he said. While the farmers shell out Rs 4,500 per acre the agents who bring the workers take a ‘cut’ of even up to Rs 1,000 per acre, he added



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