Seasonal labourers in Shopian face problems after disengagement

Representational Image
Representational ImageFile/ GK

Shopian: Bashir Ahmad, a resident of south Kashmir's Shopian district, is facing problems after he was disengaged as a seasonal labourer for the current irrigation season by the Irrigation Department.

Ahmad, 54, was working as a seasonal coolie since 1986 and would struggle hard to maintain his family out of his scanty wages.

However, this season he was not engaged by the department leaving him in deep trouble. "I am unable to feed my family and meet the educational expenses of my children ," said Ahmad.

Ahmad is not the only labourer, who was disengaged. The department did not engage over a dozen workers working with Manloo-Zawoora Sub-Division of the district this season.

" We have been working for more than three decades, but now the department has suddenly asked us that they did not need our services", said Muhammad Iqbal, another worker.

Living on the breadline, these seasonal labourers play a crucial role in cleaning up the streams and canals in the apple rich district.

In a year, they work for atleast six to eights months at paltry wages of Rs 7,000 per month. Nearly 272, seasonal workers are working with Irrigation Division Shopian during the irrigation season.

"During the last irrigation season we worked for five full months and we were paid for only 45 days", alleged the labourers.

In 2017, many seasonal labourers approached the High Court after they were disengaged in 2012 and the court directed the Irrigation Division Shopian to consider their engagement for the irrigation season.

An official from the Irrigation department told Greater Kashmir that it was up to higher ups to engage the seasonal labourers.

He , however, said that they too could approach the court and get the directions passed for their engagement.

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