By admin       2017-12-11

Bathinda: With the cotton picking season nearing its end in Punjab, labourers in the state are looking for work in Gujarat, which is the biggest producer of the fibre crop. Cotton picking in Gujarat gathered momentum in November and will go on for a few months. Farmers have been purchasing BT cotton seeds from Gujarat, which are said to be better in quality. But there are other reasons too. Labourers from Muktsar, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's home district, who went to Gujarat, were driven by unemployment in Punjab. Cotton is grown over 34 lakh hectares in Guajrat, as compared to 3.82 lakh hectares in Punjab. Nearly 50 labourers have gone to Gujarat from a village in Muktsar and more are expected to follow. Sukhjinder Singh from Khundehalal village in Muktsar, who, along with 10 labourers, arrived at Mandva in Junagadh district of Gujarat, said, "We will be getting Rs 500 per quintal as labour charges for picking cotton, along with tea and lodging arrangements. In Punjab, we got Rs 550 per quintal. We are forced to travel so far as there are no avenues of employment for us in Punjab." Mohinder Singh, a farmer said the quality of cotton in Gujarat is better than Punjab and it is easier to pick the crop. "We will stay in Gujarat till the cotton harvest continues. We may also call our women to provide a helping hand and supplement income," he said. Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) general secretary Lachhman Singh Sewewala said while there is no harm in travelling for work, farm workers could earn at home if the Punjab government provided employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)."

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