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Farm workers protest, demand funds in budget

Special Correspondent
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Members of the Karnataka State Agricultural Workers’ Union staging a dharna in front of the taluk office in Udupi on Monday.
Members of the Karnataka State Agricultural Workers’ Union staging a dharna in front of the taluk office in Udupi on Monday.

The members of the Udupi taluk unit of Karnataka State Agricultural Workers’ Union staged a dharna in front of the taluk office demanding that the State government allocate 10 per cent of total funds in the next budget for the welfare of farm workers.

In a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and submitted at the taluk office here, Dogu Suvarna, general secretary of the taluk unit of the union, said that there were nearly one crore agricultural workers in the State. Many farmers were losing their land every year. Hence, the number of agricultural workers was increasing. Many were migrating to urban areas in search of work.

The implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) had left a lot to be desired. Although many agricultural workers applied for it, they did not get work. Neither were wages under the scheme being paid on time. But contractors who were using huge equipment for work under the scheme, which was illegal, were getting their bills cleared promptly.

Ration cards had still not been properly distributed to agricultural workers. They were suffering a lot of hardship as the prices of essential commodities had gone through the roof.

The agricultural workers did not have own houses. The government was neither providing sites nor houses for the poor people. It was difficult for them to avail proper healthcare facility or provide good education to their children. In spite of these problems, the State government had ignored them. There was hardly any mention of the agricultural workers in the annual budgets. The government should change its attitude and provide 10 per cent of total funds in the next budget for the welfare of the agricultural workers, the memorandum said.

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