Demonetisation leaves rural residents jobless

Delay in monsoon has compounded the problems of farm labourers from Bahour commune

November 30, 2016 09:04 am | Updated 09:04 am IST - PUDUCHERRY:

The double whammy of demonetisation and delay in monsoon has crippled the rural population of Puducherry as they struggle to make their ends meet. The demonetisation move has brought the construction activity across the rural areas to a standstill, throwing thousands out of jobs and without money.

The construction sites in rural areas of Bahour, Villianur, Mannadipet communes sported a deserted look. “After the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes became invalid, nobody wants to spend money. When there is work, we get Rs. 600 daily. But, no one has called us for work in the past three weeks,” said D. Sitrarasu, a mason, in Bahour.

The mason said he had to pledge gold to pay his child’s hostel fees and had to borrow money to meet the family’s daily expenses. “There are thousands of construction workers in Bahour commune who are facing the same situation,” he says.

Considered to be the rice bowl of Puducherry, thousands of farm labourers from the Bahour commune moved to the construction industry as the real estate gobbled up the agriculture fields. “Nearly two-thirds of the 20,000 odd hectares of agricultural fields had been converted into housing plots. Agricultural labourers and those owning small plots of land have been moving away from the villages looking for odd jobs in the town. Many work as construction labourers. The demonetisation has hit us really hard,” says K.Kaliyan, a construction labourer, who is unable to cultivate his one-acre land due to delay in monsoon.

Th few farmers who continue to cultivate land are just hoping that this phase would pass soon. “There is no money in the five nationalised bank branches in our area. With Rs. 2,000 notes which we got earlier, we are unable to buy anything. The Central government has taken this step to curb black money and hope it succeeds in the endeavour. We hope that we will get money in a few days,” says Kaliyamurthy, who is busy planting groundnuts in his field.

Merchants suffer

V.Ramanujam, a paddy merchant, looked worried as he narrated the loss he has incurred in the last three weeks. “I am unable to sell paddy bags as the buyers do not have enough cash to pay me. Because of this, I have not paid the labourers who are working on my farms. Hence, I participated in the recent protest against the demonetisation move,” he added.

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