Freed 'haliya' struggle to survive amid lockdown in Bajura

BAJURA: Food has become scarce for the freed haliya (bonded agricultural labourer) who plough fields to make their ends meet, amid the government-imposed nationwide lockdown.

Daily wage earners including the freed agricultural labourers have been hit the hardest by the lockdown imposed by the government to check the spread of Covid-19. Haliya, who plough fields in exchange of a wage, are now deprived of their only source of income in Bajura district.

Deprived of ration, as many as 48 families in Pipaldali of Budhinanda Municipality-1 are affected by the current coronavirus crisis, said Ganga Ram Luwar, one of the agricultural labourers in the municipality.

The government had built houses for the rehabilitation of freed haliya at Tithichaur of Budhinanda-1. However, having only shelter but no source of income, some haliya families returned back to their own villages to work in fields to arrange for their daily meals. Currently, a total of 1,353 freed haliya families live in Bajura district.

The family of one of the field labourers, Chandaya Luhar, consists of 13 members. "We sell woods and work in somebody else's farm to buy essentials at the end of the day. Lockdown has left us with no other option but to starve ourselves," said Luhar. Covid-19 lockdown has prevented them from earning their daily wage.

Padam Giri, Mayor of Budhinanda Municipality, has also acknowledged that agricultural labourers and other daily wagers are facing food crisis due to prolonged lockdown in the district.

For the haliya and other daily wage earners, the future remains uncertain amid Covid-19 crisis.

(Translated by Madhavi Marasini)