A Delhi-based mushroom farmer, who had sent 10 of his workers to their home state Bihar by plane in May during the coronavirus-induced lockdown, has now booked air tickets for them and 10 other migrant labourers to return and join work here. Pappan Singh has booked tickets worth over Rs 1 lakh so that the workers, who have toiled for him, some for over 20 years, can join him in farming mushrooms during the August to April season.
Of the 20 workers, 10 of them would be flying for the first time, and they will arrive at the IGI Airport here on August 27. They will start working in the new mushroom farming season along with Singh in Delhi's Tigipur village. Talking to PTI over phone from his native village in Bihar's Samastipur district, Naveen Ram said they are excited to travel on a plane, but added that he is not nervous this time as he has the experience of his first air travel in May.
Naveen was among the 10 migrant workers who Singh had sent back home in May after they were stuck in Delhi following the coronavirus-forced lockdown in the country. He said they had tried to book railway tickets to reach Delhi, but trains are not available for the next one-and-a-half-month.
"If we wait for trains, we cannot do mushroom farming this season, which starts in August. When we told our 'malik' (employer) about this, he said that he will book flight tickets for us so that there is no delay," Naveen said. Recalling his first flight experience in May, he said that he was nervous because all of the 10 workers did not know airport formalities.
But now, Naveen said, he knows how to get through such formalities at an airport. According to him, Singh has also made travel arrangements for all 20 migrant workers to reach Patna airport on August 27 from their native places.
Singh said every year, he does mushroom farming on over three acres of land, but this time he is doing it on only one acre of land as old stock of mushrooms is still with suppliers due to the closure of markets in view of COVID-19 restrictions in recent days. "I treat my workers as part of my family members as they have been working for me for 15 to 25 years. I could have arranged workers from here (Delhi) because I am doing mushroom farming on a small piece of land this year.
"But, I have an emotional attachment with my workers and that is why I have booked their air tickets so that they can earn their livelihood while working here," he said. In May this year, Singh had spent around Rs 68,000 on flight tickets of his 10 migrant workers to send them to their home state Bihar.