KOZHIKODE: After Bengalis and Biharis, it’s the turn of tribal people from Jharkhand to reach God’s Own Country and their harvest songs in Santhali tribal language are being heard in Kerala’s paddy fields.
Mr V.N.P. Abdurahman of Thrikaripur in Kasargod has roped in three Jharkhand natives for the agrarian work in his paddy field.
“My queries for labour with Bengali and Bihari migrant labourers were responded with a firm ‘no’ as they don’t know harvesting,” said Mr Abdurahman.
But the Jharkhand tribal people know everything---from sowing to harvesting of paddy. Manjula Herong (45), Shivlal Herong (40) and Dhena Murno (25) are now sweating it out in Mr Abdurahman’s field.
They reached here through a native of their place, Shareef Ansari, who had earlier worked in Kerala as a hotel employee. The sickle being used by Jharkhand people is curved compared to ours.
“No local labourers are available for the agrarian work now. After the launch of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the situation has worsened,” felt Mr N. Gopalan Master of Thrikaripur who still has an acre of paddy field. Jharkhand labourers say that here they get thrice the wages they earned in their home state.
“The acquisition of forest land for power projects had pushed them to poverty. They reached here after working for a few months in the coal mine,” said Mr Abdurahman. They forget their worries in the paddy field and hum the song in Santhali.