Millennium Post

Cash crunch: Yamuna farmers struggle to make ends meet

It has been over 50 days since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, but the ground situation to a much extent is still not under control.  

The farmers, growing their crops at the Yamuna floodplains are in dire straits as they have run out of money for essential supplies like food, medicines, transport etc. Now they have to decide between growing crops for the market or to feed themselves.

The vast Yamuna Floodplains comprises of farmers who migrated from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the late 60s. For them their woes had started much before November 8 as 10 months back this very site, was the centre stage of the mammoth Colosseum that had been erected for Sri Sri Ravi shanker’s World Cultural Festival. 

The festival was dubbed as an environmental disaster by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), as the crop land used for the site had been completely destroyed. 

Siya Ram, a farmer, whose crops were made into a parking lot, said “The baba and his followers came in the month of March and destroyed my crops. The land has barely rejuvenated and then Modi, made our lives much more worse. Nobody is willing to buy our crops”.

The farmers sell their vegetables in the local vegetable market in Mayur Vihar Extension area. These days, the business is low as the customers now visit the supermarket next to the metro station due to digital transactions. “We had to drastically reduce our prices. Nobody wants to buy my Radish and Spinach, they have Rs 2,000 notes and I can’t give them change. I also don’t have any facility for digital payments,” said Hari, a farmer.

Majority of the farmers do not have a bank account. They have to borrow from their neighbours for essential supplies. The land is owned by the dominant Gujjar community who come every month to extract rents. 

“The rent used to be manageable before they banned the notes. The owners of the field will not take the old notes and I have been finding it difficult to get the new ones. After a while their patience will run out and they will force us to pay the rents,” said Narender Singh.

Laxmi Devi waits anxiously as the owner of the field on which she works inspects her crops. The owner Lekhram makes them count the batch of Spinach. Devi told Lekhram that she has 20, however, he made her recount the batch after which one batch was found missing.

“Where is it? I told you to properly count them,” he shouts at Devi. “Shambhu has it, I still have not found him, he must be lazing around,” she replies. 

Shambhu finally comes with a grin on his face and a weighing machine, “Don’t worry I have 14 more batches just for you”. Devi wanted to save enough money for her daughter’s wedding but is unable to collect enough money while paying Lekhram the rent, and managing every day expenses. 
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