Modi government’s demonetisation scheme has brought an unexpected windfall for migrant workers from several states engaged in grain markets of Punjab. IE reports that this is probably the first time when workers have received payment in full before the end of the paddy procurement season. The paddy procurement season lasts from around the first week of October till the end of November. However, the payments were made mostly in old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
“I deposited Rs 35,000 in the bank after getting my salary for October and November,” IE reported Rakesh, a resident of Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh and working at the main mandi in Jalandhar. Rakesh said that the advance payment would now help him return home in December. Earlier, he had to spend December in Punjab, waiting for payments.
Another worker, Bhupesh, from Motihari in Bihar, said that on November 12, four days after the demonetisation move was announced, he was paid salary of Rs 40,000 as salary for October and November. “I do not have a bank account so I put the money in the Jan Dhan account of my wife after getting some notes exchanged for new currency. One can deposit up to Rs 49,000 cash in Jan Dhan accounts,” Bhupesh told IE.
There are around 1,830 paddy procurement centres in Punjab this year and about 3 lakh labourers have been engaged in various jobs such as loading, unloading, cleaning, filling and stitching of filled bags in mandis. The government agencies undertake most of the procurement. They pay wages to workers through contractors and agents who supply manpower.